An old—and unworkable—policy from the Chicago trainyards once declared: “When two engines approach each other on the same track, neither can move until the other moves first.” It reads like an all-too familiar description of what happens when we find ourselves in conflict with someone. We stay put; we sit tight. We wait for the other to make the first move toward apology or reconciliation. Just as soon as our wounded pride is soothed and our correctness underlined, we’ll become—we promise—the forgiving persons we’ve pledged to be. It’s marvelously fortunate for us that the Father doesn’t act that way—that He takes on Himself the responsibility for moving toward us when we’re stuck in shame and brokenness. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). Grace always moves toward pain and guilt and bitterness. It doesn’t pause to grind in wrongs, or tally all infractions and offenses. It seeks the peace for which we were created, the friendship that’s infinitely more valuable than the sum of others’ failures. “Be kind to one another,” the Scripture says, “tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). And you will stay in grace. - Bill Knott
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