by James Collins
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Over the years, I have been blessed to receive many letters from readers. Many of those letters asked questions. One reader wrote, “Dear Pastor James, you are without a doubt the biggest pinhead on the planet. Who told you that you were a writer?” Signed, “Phillis Stein.”
Another reader wrote, “James Collins, you are a narrow–minded bigot. Where do you get off by saying Jesus is the only way?” Signed, “Barry Cuwder.”
Another letter read, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. Why don’t you reply?” Signed, “Otto Matik.”
One of my favorite letters said, “Dr. Collins, I’m sorry that I called you an idiot in my previous letter. I really thought you already knew. I could explain to you how stupid you are, but I can’t understand it for you. What university would be so moronic as to give you a doctorate?” Signed, “Rory Motion.”
This past week, I received a letter from Ladonna (not her real name). She wrote, “Dear Pastor Collins, I write today because I am confused. Many years ago, I made accusations against another person that were just false. It created a crisis that I am ashamed of today. Should I try to make it right after all these years or should I just leave well enough alone… I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds. What should I do?”
This question is one that I have been asked often. Many Christians struggle with this issue. However, the Bible is clear that if you as a believer have wronged another believer then you need to attempt to make things right. God has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
A few years ago, a woman named Dee felt something was missing in her life. So, she started coming to my church. Eventually, she gave her life to Christ. It was my privilege to baptize her. Whenever someone gets saved, it is a miracle of God. But Dee’s salvation was truly a miracle considering she was eighty-three-years-old. Most of the time, when someone reaches that age, life has hardened them to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One day Dee told me about her daughter, Joy. Dee had basically abandoned Joy when she was a child. They had not spoken to each other for almost fifty years. I encouraged Dee to call her daughter and apologize. Dee said the same thing to me that Ladonna said in her letter, “I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds.” I said, “Jesus Christ can heal wounds even old ones,” as I handed her the phone. She called her daughter and apologized. She shared how Jesus Christ had changed her life. As they spoke, Joy put her faith in Jesus as Savior. She became reconciled with Jesus and with her mother. Now both Dee and Joy have peace with each other and peace with God.
The point is: When you confess and seek forgiveness from someone you have wronged, God provides opportunities for healing (James 5:16). By not seeking reconciliation, you feel sick with unforgiveness, anger, and shame. God through His Son and Spirit can heal you when you seek His help.
Why don’t you lean on God’s strength and reach out to that person and show them the love of Christ today?
Better late than never.
James Collins is pastor, columnist, and author. You can write to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.