Exodus 22:1-31, Exodus 23:1-19, Proverbs 31:8-9, 1 Corinthians 10:24
I’d wronged him. He’d wronged me. That much was agreed. But it was the degrees of wrong that were the fuel for contention. And contend we did. I’d love to tell you this was a schoolyard feud, a quarrel boys could scrap each other over and be done with. But this was between two grown men, two Christian men, two good friends who all of a sudden found themselves in between a wrong and a hurt place.
Live long and honest enough and you’ll learn there are always two sides to a story, and the truth hovers somewhere in the middle. That’s how it was with us. But rather than square up and face one another, we retreated to our respective corners, and stayed there for the better part of a decade. No, I didn’t steal his goat. No, he didn’t shoot my donkey. But after the smoke had cleared, the bottom line was clear: it was about our pride. Silly, huh? But nonetheless true.
What do two grown men who’d once been good friends and who believe in realities like Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and words like forgiveness and redemption and honesty and justice, what do they do in regard to their broken relationship? In other words, what does restitution look like, even when so much time—too much time—has passed? In still other words, how do you mend the fence?
“No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person” (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Leave it to Scripture to always-but-gently and every-so-firmly step on your toes to get your heart’s attention. Seek the good of the other person. And seeking usually starts with a step in their direction to see if they can be found. My initial step was an email message, actually during Lent, to test the waters. I found the waters were navigable. Then a lengthier follow-up message to say—wait for it—“I’m sorry.”
That’s right, men, two little words that are often almost impossible to choke out whether you’re a boy or a man. But if we’re going to claim the name Christian, and be even halfway serious about a holiness that the Crucified One calls us all to, then our lives have to reflect its corresponding justice—also known as seeking to make things right, mending the fence.
By all means be holy for the sake of a friend. It’s never too late. But even beyond that, be holy for God’s sake.
Written by John Blase