Shalom Brotherman

by SAMUEL O. TAIWO

Restitution involves making peace with all, as much as lieth in you. And sometimes this can be very difficult.

There’ll always be people who will never get along with us no matter how hard we try. And there are those we may never fully get along with for one reason or another no matter how hard we try. A good example of this can be seen in the strained relationship between David and Saul.

In an attempt to defend the honour of Israel’s God from the taunting remarks of Goliath, David found himself in some really hot trouble with an even more formidable foe, an Israelite like him. Perhaps if he had learned the first rule of power, never outshone thy master, his story would have been a lot different.

In any case, what should be our attitude when those who have vowed that we must surely be put to death are those of our own household?

I’ll strongly advice you to do what David did to Saul: avoid such persons as much as possible! This decision may be tough. But it’s possible! And that’s all that matters! You have a duty first to preserve your own life. Perhaps this explains why our very first fundamental human right is, right to life.

However, it would be different if you had a difference in opinion about religious beliefs with the person in question, or if the person in question was once a Christian who for some reason left your group or stopped believing in the teachings of your group. To avoid a person simply because they no longer believe as you do is foolish, childish, and ignorant.

Every Christian brother-man knows that the love of God is that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous. When God expects of us to leave our gift before the altar and first be reconciled to our brother before coming back to offer it, it is because such act is not grievous. When God expects that we do more than to salute our brethren only, it is because such act is not grievous.

Strained relationships like the one between David and Saul are completely unpredictable and unavoidable. And heaven forbid that it extends to one’s marriage. Our relationship with people can sometimes turn out well. And at other times, it may turn out not so well. But through it all, we must pay close attention to the following:

1. Know ourselves through and through, accept ourselves for who we are, and improve ourselves where fundamentally necessary. Our gender, our height, our skin colour, our eye colour, our genotype, our blood group, our DNA, our ancestry, our temperament, our relationship with God, our relationship with people, our intuition, our dream life, the reason or reasons for which we were born, our strengths and weaknesses, the meaning or meanings of our names, the battles we must fight, the battles we may fight, our health life, our legacy for the next generation, our preparation for the after-life, and the list goes on. All these and many more comprise of who we are. Remember, you’re the only you that can exist at this point in history! Know that you thoroughly.

2. If a man’s foes shall be those of his own household, then it behoves the Christian brother-man to choose his friends wisely and prayerfully.

I’ve never ceased to ask myself the question: why would the incarnate God pray hard all night long before choosing those to whom he could say, “ye are my friends”? Because he knew what was in man! And is this why he related with them so wisely as not to make Judas one of those to whom he told his deep secrets like he did to Peter, James, and John?

If on the issue of choosing your friends you are left with no choice but to pray hard all night, or, for days, and weeks, and months, and even years, you, my friend, have made a very good bargain.

3. Thoroughly know the roles which you are to play in the lives of each other. For instance, the role I play in the life of my wife is different from the role I play in the life of my colleagues at work.

Until relationships are properly defined in terms of roles and responsibilities, the depths of being a social animal may never truly be attained.

4. Apologize immediately and sincerely where you wrongfully offend another person during the course of the day. It is my candid advice never to wait for them to point out your error or mistake to you before doing this.

5. Prayerfully take an inventory of your day each night or when you are by yourself, and seek to right your ways with those whom you may have offended as soon as possible.

As much as lieth in you, live at peace with all men. A journal for this purpose may be useful.

6. Take an inventory of everything within your possession. Return to its rightful owner things which you either borrowed or took from another. And where for some reason you do not, or may never know the rightful owner of the item in question, give it over to your local Church informing the leadership of the reason for doing this.

7. Except such promise is a sinful one, do all within your power to make right the pledge or promises you made to others.

8. Give to every man that which they have over a period of time, rightfully earned. In any long term relationship, people should not be trusted because of their titles, past experiences, calibre of friends, number of followers, societal status, what they told you about themselves, what their resume or curriculum vitae says about them, what their friends or followers told you about them, the roles they played in certain movies, their financial status, their height, their skin colour, their charisma or their ability to relate well with people, the number of books they have authored, their prowess in certain skills and inborn abilities, their religion, their past experiences, or any such reasons. Trust people only to the extent to which they have earned such trust with you, and no more. This means that when a person has earned your trust in, say their ability to keep your deepest secrets, do not use this as a yardstick to trust them in, say the issue of marital faithfulness or in any other issue which they haven’t rightfully earned with you, until they have rightfully earned it.

9. And even where those you trusted deliberately or unknowingly failed you by not keeping up with their earned trust, don’t be selfish, brother! Forgive their shortcomings as quickly as possible just like you‘d want someone else to do to you and move on!

However where such shortcomings become deliberately frequent, do not trust them again with the issues in question.

10. Forgive any wrong done against you as quickly as possible.

Some offences are easier to forgive than others. And yes you’re not alone on this. Everyone who has been deeply offended and repeatedly hurt knows just how tough it is to forgive men their trespasses.

But before condemning to the gutters of vengeful hatred those who have wronged us, it would be wise that we consider the following:

a. No one has the right to refuse to forgive another of that which he has been forgiven by God.

If God were to play on a projector screen, and before my entire Church on a holy Sunday morning the thoughts of my heart from the prior week till date, how many of them would I be proud of? You know how Church people can be. And I’m sure there are things about which we would certainly be embarrassed if they knew.

The truth is, that our record with heaven has not been as perfect as we often portray before men. But if God, the only One Who has the undisputed right to be offended at me, decided to give me yet another chance by which I am now a Christian, what right have I to refuse that same grace to those whose number and depth of offence against me is no greater than a drop of water in comparison to the ocean of my offences against God?

b. No Christian has the right to throw in the towel on that of which God has vowed to assist him. If, as the English man would say, to forgive is divine, the onus lies on the Christian who must make heaven by violence to spend quality time pouring out his heart in solitude for the grace to forgive before the One Who will be found only when the searching has been done with all thy heart. The only time we should throw in the towel about forgiving those who trespass against us is when forgiving them, though tough, becomes impossible. But if he with whom nothing is impossible can also give the grace to forgive, then we must certainly seek such grace.

It will be worth it at the end of time.

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