Keeping Short Accounts: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Honoré de Balzac's Melmoth reconciled
Keeping Short Accounts Makes the Process of Reconciliation Easier

One theme that recurs in our household is the process of reconciliation. At the end of any transaction should be the process of reconciliation. It is an accounting to completion. What I mean by that is for any transaction or interaction to come to a close, there needs to be an accounting for what is transacted (interacted) and payment or restitution made.

Today an ugly interaction occurred between two members of my household. One left for the bed room, smoldering and diverting attention by reading, the other was folding laundry, regretting and smarting from the damaging interaction. In the end, what was needed to bring them together was reconciliation. I explained to my apprentice the concept of transaction reconciliation.

I gave an example of a shop keeper and a customer reconciling accounts at the end of the month, with the items of the transaction evened out through agreed accounting and final payment. I explained that when one party is injured in a confrontation, there is payment due. That payment is confession in admission and seeking of forgiveness, which is where the reconciliation happens. I am happy to say that the transaction occurred and both reconciled to good relations immediately after our conversation.

The conversation continued around the concept of keeping short accounts with each other and God, meaning that if in the example,  the shop keeper and the customer wait to long between reconciliations, some things are forgotten and or relations are damaged and mistrust ensues. Keeping a short account of our sins with God makes it easier to keep a good relationship with Him, wherein we can hear from Him clearly through His holy spirit daily, hour by hour.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

A Jostled Vessel

Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out

This past weekend, I was talking to my apprentice about character and the great potential it brings, if we were truly surrendered to God. Surrendered as if we were empty vessels. I used vessels in the sense that we have capacity to be poured into and then poured out. Imperfect vessels as we are, without holes (in our faith and character), can contain blessings to God and others, in a way that we can daily be poured out as a drink offereing.

Listening this morning to Ravi Zacharias—one of a few men who’s lives I follow, learning from their faith, wisdom and character—he told a story about a tumultuous time in his family growing up in India. As a part of this story, relating his mothers character, he quoted this part of an Indian proverb:

“Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out”

Easy to understand, right? The little boy in the carpenters’ workshop (pictured) appears to be moving cautiously with a filled vessel (bowl) that serves some purpose (poured or somehow discharged to use) in the shop. If his father or master (pictured) were to back up as the boy went behind, he might bump into him, jostling his hands and potentially causing the bowls contents to spill. The question is, if that bowl is us, what spills out?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-18; Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
(2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV)

“…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:34-37)