Maybe you hurt someone. Maybe not maybe, you have hurt someone. Someone you love. You said something you should not have, or you did not say what you should have. You did not do what needed to be done, or you did something you should not have done. You were not thinking correctly, or you were not thinking at all. You did not intend to hurt them, but you did.
I’ve been that person. I know the knots in your stomach and the heavy burden of guilt when you are the cause of someone else’s pain. I know the emotion tied to disappointing others. Lyricist Isaac Watts describe the feeling this way, “For such a worm as I.”
Our Lord tells us how to handle these times,
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.” (Mat 5:23-25)
If I were to state this simply, Jesus says to apologize and to do what you can (when you can) to make things right. There is one lesson my wife, Amy, shared with me from her preparation as a teacher and leader of teachers that I try to remember, “Always make effort to repair the relationship. Apologize even when you may not have too.”
Our human relationships are one thing, but there is a more important relationship to consider. The relationship and harm that inspired Isaac Watts to compare himself to a worm in his song, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed.” As much as we feel guilt when we hurt our fellow man, this is nothing compared to the hurt we caused the Lord.
Years ago, I learned the following song. A search did not yield any results for the author’s name and only a few hits on the lyrics, I would appreciate learning who wrote these words:
May I call you Brother? May I call you Friend
I’ve hurt You, Jesus. I’ve hurt You with my sin.
Father, please forgive, I am young and can’t survive.
Without the pease of mind, that only You provide . . . Please Forgive
God is gracious and does lovingly forgive. David upon realizing God’s forgiveness penned these words, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity . . .” (Psalm 32:1-2).
Thank you, Father, for the grace of your forgiveness in Christ.
Note: Take time to read Matthew 18:15-35. In that passage Jesus tells us to reach out to those who hurt us to forgive them. Comparing that text to Matthew 5:23-25 we learn that we always have the responsibility to try to repair relationships, both when I am hurt and when I am the one who hurt someone else.