What’s missing in our so-called repentance is the deep sorrow the prodigal son had when he realized how much he had hurt the heart of his father. This sorrow caused him to lay aside all pretense and self-protection and then to confess with a broken heart, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” (Luke 15:21).
Several leaders from a mission field I was visiting approached me with the urgent request to help them make peace between two co-workers. I agreed to talk with both men. The interesting thing was that neither one was willing to give in and admit any wrong. I realized that, technically, the brother who was the leader was absolutely right in what he had said and done. If he took his case to a court of law anywhere in the world, he would be vindicated as innocent. But if he was so right, why was the other brother so hurt? Why did he continue to insist he had been wronged?
Finally I spoke to the leader.
“I understand what you said to this brother,” I told him. “But tell me, in what spirit did you speak those words?”
There was dead silence. Then he responded: “I understand what you mean.”
Even truth can divide and destroy if it is not soaked and covered in love, grace and mercy—and presented with a tender heart.
If that tenderness of heart is missing in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, God’s work is greatly hindered. For Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). With these words, the Lord clearly identified the foundation of prayer: oneness in relationship with each other.