Read Genesis 33:1-20.
When a person surrenders to God, they are changed on the inside. They are freed from their striving, and they can rest in the goodness of God. As a result, they do not look at the world in the same way again. But this inward change cannot stay on the inside; it must overflow into every relationship.
When God ministers to you by His grace and exercises mercy toward you, then you have no choice but to exercise mercy toward others.
We see this happen in the life of Jacob. When God appeared to Jacob as he camped on the bank of the Jabbok River, the pair had wrestled till daybreak. In that experience, Jacob surrendered to the Lord, and God changed the patriarch's name from Jacob to Israel. God touched him, and he was never the same again.
The next day, Jacob finally met Esau. Although Jacob was a very different man from the schemer who had left home twenty years earlier, he still needed to clean up some past business. It didn't matter how much time had passed; Jacob knew he had acted deceitfully and had cheated Esau. So he recognized the wrong he had committed. He confessed it. He repented of it. And then he insisted on making restitution. As he approached Esau on the road, he bowed down seven times and insisted on calling his brother "My Lord Esau" as a sign of respect.
Now that Jacob had been conquered by God, he had a renewed strength to go and face his painful past. You see, when God touches your heart, when He forgives all your sins, when He blesses you with salvation, when He ministers to you by His grace and exercises mercy toward you, then you have no choice but to exercise mercy toward others. You must be ready to right the wrongs you have committed, even if they happened twenty years ago.
Friends, I realize that the thought of correcting past wrongs can put dread in your heart. Facing past sins can give you a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. But there is good news: If you do it in the name of Jesus, for the sake of Jesus, and in the power of Jesus, you will receive the strength to do what is right. When you purpose in your heart to right the wrong, God will go ahead of you, God will prepare the way for you, and God will change the heart of the other person. God will do things that will absolutely surprise you.
Prayer: Jesus, it is so hard to face the shames of my past. Give me a deep sense of Your love so that I can approach those I have hurt with humility and not feel crushed. Help me to witness to the power of Your Spirit to restore and transform. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother" (Genesis 33:3).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Fear Deceives, Grace Frees: WATCH NOW