Let’s face it, we live in times of turmoil when people seem to be very intolerant but at the same time there is a constant call for reconciliation. What do we do? Hide from the problems and hope they will go away? Most people don’t get involved because they don’t feel qualified, but God has another view in that He qualifies us by His grace in taking us through a variety of circumstances, including the changing of our lives when He calls us to Jesus Christ. As we consider being an instrument of reconciliation, consider Joseph and his statement to his brothers after the death of their father, Jacob. His brothers feared Joseph and what he might do to them after Jacob was no longer there, so they tried to “guilt” him into showing them kindness.
Genesis 50:15–21 (ESV) — 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Notice in particular: Genesis 50:20 (ESV) — 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
As you study the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis, you will find a man who became an instrument of reconciliation. Not only did God use an inward development of Joseph but also a series of outward circumstances to mold him as God used him to bring appeasement to a hurting world and their physical needs. Notice again how Joseph’s tender heart toward God recognized his unique preparation for his ministry even in the mean acts of his brothers and others. You might say he was reconciled to his suffering as a means by which God prepared him for the ministry of reconciliation.
Genesis 50:20 (ESV) — 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God did some marvelous things through Joseph who was prepared for ministry through suffering. Included in that ministry was the fact that it all came together to be used to bring his brothers to a resolved relationship with God, and that went on to include bringing peace to a quite dysfunctional family. Reconciliation with God has that effect – to be peacemakers. Once we are brought into fellowship with God, then we become instruments in the hands of the great healer of all relationships and acting as His agent or “peacemaker” declares our pedigree as one of His children.
Matthew 5:9 (ESV) — 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
How did God prepare Joseph? Throughout his trials as a rejected brother, sold as a slave, falsely accused, thrown into prison, then forgotten in prison, he never ventured from a submissive attitude toward the Sovereign Lord of all. Remaining faithful to God, he was in tune to God as he brought the interpretation to dreams of two of Pharaoh’s men, then to Pharaoh himself. Even when he was made prime minister by Pharaoh, he recognized he was merely an agent or servant for God.
So that is the first lesson to being an effective instrument of reconciliation: we must be tested and proved to be faithful. Secondly, consider the mandate given by the apostle Paul for being God’s agent of change, or as he says, an ambassador for Christ:
2 Corinthians 5:11–21 (ESV) — 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 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. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It should go without saying, but those who represent Christ as an agent of change must have first been changed themselves. Look at verse 17.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
There can be no change until God brings a change in the heart of the people involved, especially the one who is seeking to bring change must have first been changed or reconciled to God.
We are also reminded of the motivation to lead others in the first steps of change, namely, to bring them the Gospel. In verse 11, we are to be motivated to persuade men because of the fear of God. In verse 14 it’s the love of Christ that moves us to take action. In verse 20 it’s the responsibility of our commission as ambassadors of Christ to be used by God to make His appeal to be reconciled.
In case we forget, verse 12 reminds us that this ministry of reconciliation is not about us but about bringing people to Christ. And verse 21 reminds us of the simplicity of the message that centers on the substitutionary work of Christ to bring us to God in peace. It’s God who is the offended, who takes the initiative to bring us to Himself in peace through the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is God who commissions us to go with the message of reconciliation, acting as an agent of change in the lives of those with whom we come into contact. On a practical side, Paul’s admonishment to Timothy gives us a good reminder of approach and perseverance in reconciliation:
2 Timothy 2:24–26 (ESV) — 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
So, the question is this: how are you doing on living up to your commission as an instrument of reconciliation? Are you bringing the message of peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ to those in your sphere of influence?
Joseph found satisfaction in the most difficult circumstances as he looked back to see that God was preparing him to be an agent of change. Likewise, as we see everything that is happening in our lives as God’s preparation and everyone we meet as another prospect for change, then we shall see great purpose as we pray for the grace of God to be an instrument of reconciliation.