Blessed… Make Things Right

“You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court. Otherwise, they will haul you before the judge, the judge will turn you over to the officer of the court, and you will be thrown into prison. I say to you in all seriousness that you won’t get out of there until you’ve paid the very last penny” (Matthew 5:21-26, Common English Bible).

A few years ago the thought occurred to me that there was a person who had been in my life many years ago whom I had done wrong. The specifics don’t matter for our purposes here I think it best to leave the details between me and this person. It is sufficient to say I had treated this person pretty badly many years before.

At first I had hoped to encounter this person at a couple of events we both had reason to attend. The other person did not attend. I had to work harder than that to make contact and it took a significant amount of time for me to track the other person down.

Eventually I did make contact. I apologize and asked for forgiveness. The person told me they had forgiven me a very long time ago.

Making amends is something important. In Twelve-Step programs making amends for past wrongs is pretty important too. It is key to being in recovery. It is so important that if you are unable to make contact with the person in question, you actually write them a letter. Even if the person you have wronged has passed away, you still write a letter that obviously can never be delivered. I think this shows how important making things right can be for we humans.

Our lesson starts out talking about not committing murder. I think it is safe to say most of us are doing OK here, at least as far as it goes. I know I have never killed another person and most people I know would be right there with me. Murder is not on our to-do list and we have successfully taken this particular instruction pretty seriously.

We are doing pretty well, or at least that’s what we would like to think. Here in today’s reading, however, Jesus goes further than, “Thou shalt not commit murder.” Here he talks about anger and some pretty serious name calling. But I think the spirit of what Jesus is saying goes even further. What are the things we do that destroy relationships with people around us? How is it that we are killing our relationships?

In reading this passage, it seems to me, this “murder” is about as important as literally taking a life and Jesus says to us, “Go make things right.” Such things need to be at the forefront of the things we seek to do. In the language of twelve step recovery programs, we have to make amends.

What I sought to do in making things right over that old wrong I had committed had nothing to do with a twelve step program but it did have something to do with that love of God and love of neighbor idea Jesus seems to think is pretty important. If I wanted to work in the light of God’s love, I had to go and make things right where I had committed a wrong.

To varying degrees we all wrong people around us from time to time. Don’t kill the relationship. Instead, go, make things right.

What can you do today to write a wrong from yesterday? Go, make things right.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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