Daily Reading – Genesis 33
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Paul
Our work as an ambassador of Christ requires us to be able to look people in the eye, especially those we have wronged. Jacob gives us a model of reconciliation in today’s story.
Long ago Jacob manipulated Esau out of the blessing to rule is father’s house. This encounter is much different. When Jacob meets Esau he humbly bows down and calls him Lord. Jacob repents of the deception of stealing the blessing by sharing the blessings he had received from the Lord with Esau.
Esau forgives the guilt of Jacob’s sin, and Jacob says, “to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”
Something amazing happens through the process of confession and reconciliation. The man who humbly asks for forgiveness receives a tangible example of the grace of God from the one who offers mercy.
Sometimes the grace of God can seem abstract and hard to believe, especially for those who have not seen Jesus. But God has entrusted Christ’s ministry of reconciliation to the church, as if God were making his appeal through us. (2 Cor. 5:20) When we forgive, people see a physical example of Jesus that helps them believe his mercy is real. For Jacob, the grace found in his brother’s eyes was like “looking into the face of God.”
Reconciliation can take many forms, but always falls under the greater purpose of Christ reconciling the world to himself. Sometimes our sin has caused another person pain and we need to pursue reconciliation with them. Other times our sin is self-destructive and amends need to be made only with God. However, it can be difficult to “feel” forgiven for these sins which are often done in secret, and the devil often uses these kinds of sins to accuse us.
But God has given us a road to reconciliation in these moments too.
James 5:16 says,
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
We can use confession to bring our sin into the light, and in return receive healing. This healing includes the freedom of our conscience from the lies of the accuser and the rememberance that we have been cleansed from sin. We get a tangible example of God’s grace when we confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ and they receive us favorably. Like Jacob with Esau, it can be as if we were even “looking into the face of God.”
Listen to this description from 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 of who you are in Christ:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
Our ministry is reconciliation. Asking for forgiveness from those you have wronged is a great way to point them to Christ. In addition, you can serve as a conduit of freedom by helping your brothers and sisters in Christ bring their sin into the light through confession.
How can you serve as an ambassador today in the ministry of reconciliation?
The Emmaus Trail is a devotional study that explores the theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son which is found in all of Scripture.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.