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07/09/16

Permalink 08:57:48 pm, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 151 words   English (US)

Reconciliation

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4:5,6 )

It seems to me that there are at least three ways in which I need to be reconciled in the process making amends.

First, I need to be reconciled to God. Without this, I have little reason to pursue recovery. Without Him, I am powerless to do any good thing (John 5:30 ) (John 15:4,5 ). And because "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )

Second, part of what being reconciled to God means, is to actually do what He says (John 14:15 ). And one thing that He says is "If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23,24 ). So, whenever possible and appropriate, I need to make amends to those whom I have offended -- with the hope of reconciling that broken relationship, where appropriate and when the other person is willing.

"If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18 )

Third, knowing that I have done all that I can do to reconcile myself to God and with others, I can then have the peace that comes from reconciling myself with my own conscience. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 )

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

03/04/16

Permalink 08:31:35 am, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 265 words   English (US)

What's in it for me?

Choosing to make amends, assumes that we have already confessed these things to God, who has consequently forgiven us. That forgiveness, as well as loving acceptance is assured (1 John 1:9 ). So, when we confess/apologize those whom we've wronged, we tend to expect that same acceptance and forgiveness that we have received of God. But these expectations are sometimes frustrated because these are sinful humans, just like us.

I have come to have low expectations of the response that my amends will generate in others. I realize that they may not be ready to make amends or even to forgive me. After all, at one time, I wasn't ready either. So, why should I expect them to be?

Since God has already forgiven me, and the person (whom I need to make amends to) may not forgive me or even acknowledge that they too need to make amends, then what could it possibly benefit me (or them) to follow through with this amends?! Maybe there is a clue here: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. And judge not, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be released:" (Luke 6:31,37 ). "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14,15 ).

Forgiveness... It looks like I need to forgive before I can really make amends. But once I have forgiven, then my amends becomes a gift to that person. The acceptance of that gift is not my goal nor expectation. The benefit to me is mostly in my giving. "give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." (Lk 6:38 )

So, what's in it for me? Peace, the peace of God, and the good gifts of God. It's another step in my recovery process. It's about furthering my personal character development. That's what's in it for me. And, personally, I think it's worth whatever it takes!

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

12/11/15

Permalink 07:45:41 am, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 347 words   English (US)

Making Amends to the Human Race

" Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." (Romans 12:17-18 )

There are some people from my past for which I have been unable to make amends. For various reasons, it hasn't been possible. Through my recovery process (since 1994), I've become willing to make amends to them all. And, maybe someday, I'll have the opportunity to do that for some. But for others, it wouldn't be a good idea because it could cause further injury. I pray for these people, when God brings them to my mind, but I feel bad that I can’t do more.

Maybe I can do more. Many years ago I said to God, "I've spent much of my life doing things that have hurt other people. Now I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I can to help other people". I know this doesn't make up for the pain I have caused. And I know that doing good doesn't justify me in the sight of God. I am still a wretched sinner, only saved by the blood of Jesus. But in hurting people, I know I have done harm to the human race and to God.

So now, I choose to do what I can to make amends to the human race. That is why I write. That is why I facilitate small groups. That is why I mentor men in need. That is why I speak publicly on sanctification/recovery topics. But, that’s not my only reason for doing these things. I do them because it helps me too. It keeps recovery topics fresh in my mind. It keeps me accountable, as I share my weaknesses. All these things help to accelerate my own recovery. And that’s gooood :-)

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16 ) "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death." (Revelation 12:11 )

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

09/25/15

Permalink 07:43:15 am, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 237 words   English (US)

"I restore him fourfold"

"And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold." (Luke 19:2,5,6,8 )

When Jesus abides in our hearts, our attitudes change. Our selfishness and greed turn to love and generosity. Instead of defending our sins against others, we confess our mistakes and make amends to those whom we have harmed. Just as Jesus said to Zacchaeus, "make haste... for today I must abide at thy house", He says to us today, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20 )

Some questions now come to my mind.

  1. Do I hear Jesus "knocking at my door", or am I so busy with the cares of this world that I'm not even listening.
  2. If I do hear Him knocking, will I open the door of my heart and let Him in, or will I send Him away to do my bidding?
  3. If I let Him in, will I fully surrender to His will and choose to do as He leads no matter the consequences, or will I push Him out the back door when my faith gets weak.
  4. Finally, will I choose to make amends when He convicts me, as did Zacchaeus, trusting that He will make all things right in the end. Or, will I continue to live with shame and guilt because of the bad things I have done, or said, to others?

It is always my choice as to who I will listen to and how I will live my life. It is your choice too. How will you choose to live your life today?

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

07/03/15

Permalink 07:38:01 am, Step(s): 09 Making Amends, 393 words   English (US)

Amends and Forgiveness

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you." (James 4:10 )

Once we've become willing to make amends, it is time to follow through with the next shame-reducing act of actually making amends with those who won't be further damaged by our doing so. I think it important to consider our motives for this communication with those whom we have harmed. Are we truly sorry for what we have done? Or, are we just doing it because we feel pressured to do so? Can we honestly say with the apostle Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20 )? Are we really ready to humbly admit our mistakes to those we have harmed and do what we can to make amends?

Maybe they have also hurt us. Are we ready to forgive our enemy and to extend the first bits of agape love to them, by making amends? (Matthew 5:42-48 ). Note that loving (agape) our enemy does not necessarily mean that we will ever become close (emotional) friends (philia). What it does mean is that we will have unconditional respect, courtesy, and well-wishing for everyone, including those who have harmed us. This is not an emotional response. This is a decision to do, not only what is best for the other person, but what is in our best interest as well. You see, it is never in our best interest to hold grudges and to be unforgiving, because these things destroy the peace is our privilege to enjoy otherwise.

Is it within our power to make the decision to love/forgive our enemies? I would say "Yes". However, I must quickly add that it is NOT likely within our power to carry out that decision. This is where the proper use of our will comes into play, for "with God, all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26 ) (Mark 9:23 ). And, "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )

When we make amends, we will likely have fear about the outcome. Will the recipient of our amends lash out at us? Will our reputation suffer? In my personal experience and in the experience of others whom I've discussed this with, there is very seldom a negative outcome. Most people I have written to have not responded at all. But, those who have responded have had a favorable response. To my knowledge, my reputation has not suffered. To the contrary, people seem to appreciate the fact that I take ownership of my mistakes and do what I can to make amends.

"give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:38 )

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)

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