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‘But What About Him?’
“But it was this pastor who picked the fight, not me!” I argued. “Good grief! I was new in town. He could have welcomed and supported me, but instead he called me ‘cursed’ because I was bald and threatened his people not to attend any services at our church. This pastor has done some seriously wrong things against me, Lord!”

Even today ? 20 years later ? people remember the mud-slinging that took place between this pastor and me back in those days. It was really nasty and ugly, yet we were the two largest churches in Riga at the time! The entire scenario was extremely ungodly and out of order.

Then the Lord explicitly told me that I was to go to this pastor and repent for my wrong attitude toward him. So I replied to the Lord, “I have a reason for feeling the way I do toward this man. What about him, Lord? What are You going to do about all the wrong things he’s said and done against me?” (Have you ever said something similar to the Lord when He was dealing with you about your bad attitude toward someone else?)

I’ll never forget what the Holy Spirit said to me at that moment: “I’m not talking to you about this man. I’m talking to you about YOU. I will deal with him for what he’s done to you, but right now I’m dealing with you for your reactions to him.”

Isn’t it interesting that when God deals with us about our wrong attitudes, words, or actions in a difficult situation with someone else, we so often want to justify ourselves by focusing on what the other person did wrong?

That’s just what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. He blame-shifted and said, “This woman You gave me.…” when God confronted him about his disobedience. When we do the same, we don’t seem to realize that we’re actually accusing God of being irresponsible for not dealing with the other person instead of us!

When you think about it, it’s really very arrogant of us to ask the One who sees and knows all things, “Lord, don’t You see what that person did? Aren’t You aware of what he (or she) said to me?” No matter how hard we try to get God to focus on the other person or to come into agreement with our side of things, He will always, always point us back to the wrong motivations of our own hearts, because those motivations are the roots that produce any ugly fruit growing in our lives.

Jesus commanded us to produce fruit that remains (see John 15:16). However that won’t happen unless we guard our hearts and diligently pluck out any seeds of strife before they develop into deep roots of bitterness that can pollute our lives and produce poisonous fruit.

This was the lesson I was about to learn ? but I definitely wasn’t ready for what the Holy Spirit said next to me! He told me to get in the car, drive across town, go into that pastor’s office, get down on my knees in front of him, and repent for every slanderous thing I had heard, believed about him, and repeated to others. Ugh! That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew the Holy Spirit had told me to do it.

When the Holy Spirit asked me to go to him and get on my knees in front of him, my first response was, “NO, I WON’T DO IT! I’m not giving that man the gratification of seeing me on my knees in front of him. I don’t want to give him the pleasure!” I was certain that the moment I walked out of his office, he would tell everyone, “RICK RENNER has bowed before me today!”

For two months, I heard the small, silent voice of the Holy Spirit, asking me again and again, “Are you going to obey Me? Are you going to do what I’ve asked you to do? Are you going to go to that pastor, get on your knees, and repent for your attitude toward him?”

I argued with the Lord for two months about the matter, but He just kept saying, “Rick, do you really want revival? If you do, then you have to do what I’m requiring you to do.” It got to the point that the Lord was interrupting my prayer time every day, saying, “Are you going to obey Me? Are you going to obey Me? Are you going to obey Me?” The sound of those words was like a roaring in my mind.

At last I threw in the towel and gave up! I said, “Yes, yes, yes ? I will obey You!” So I asked my associate to go with me for moral support, and I drove across town to this man’s church office. As I sat across the room from the pastor, we talked about the weather, about politics, about our children.

Finally, we didn’t have anything else to talk about, and I knew the time had come for me to do what I had come to do. I could get up and leave that room with unfinished business and totally fail this assignment, or I could slip down onto my knees and do what Jesus had asked me to do.

After breathing a deep sigh, I told this pastor, “I’m here today to do something that the Lord is requiring me to do.” He just stared at me, so I continued, “I’ve heard a lot of bad things you’ve said about me. I know about some of your doctrines that I find to be very wrong. [At that moment, I began to slip into the accusatory mode and had to deliberately pull out of it!] But I’m not here to deal with you today. I’m here today to deal with me. You have offended me, and ever since, I have believed every negative thing any person has told me about you. Please accept my apology for repeating those things to others. I’ve been wrong. I have been a source of division. I’m here to ask you to forgive me.”

At that moment, I wanted to hear this man respond, “Well, Rick, I’ve said a lot of bad things about you, it’s true. I need to ask you to forgive me as well.” That would have made me feel so much better. But instead of apologizing to me or acknowledging that he had done anything wrong, he just stared at me with a look of glee in his eyes. I could see that he was relishing every moment of my contrition.

Then the Holy Spirit said to me, “Now it’s time to get on your knees in front of him.”

I argued inwardly with the Lord. Please don’t ask me to get on my knees!

But the Holy Spirit quietly spoke to my heart, “Rick, you need to get on your knees in front of this man to properly ask for his forgiveness.”

So I lowered myself down to one knee, thinking that if I did it halfway, the Lord might be satisfied. But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “BOTH knees!”

I knew full well at that moment that if I wanted to please the Lord and experience a freshness of His presence within our church, I had to fully obey Him, no matter how humiliated I felt or how this man responded.

I also knew that if I didn’t get it right this time, I would have to come back a second time. God would not let me off the hook. So I knelt on both knees, looked up at this pastor, and said, “Brother, I repent before God and before you for the ugly attitude and words that I’ve fostered and perpetuated against you.”

That day freedom came into my soul. From that day forward, I didn’t care what this man said or didn’t say about me. I had done what the Lord required of me, and I was free. Even more, I began to take active steps to really pursue peace with him.

Denise and I invited him and his wife to our home for dinners on multiple occasions. I also invited him to speak in our church, and I attended his church conferences. I was pursuing, following, and hunting after peace with this man. After all, we were pastors of the two largest churches in the city. If nothing else, we needed to be at peace with each other for the sake of Christ’s testimony in Riga.

It took awhile, but later this pastor also acted on what the Lord spoke to his heart to do in order to pursue peace with me. Since that time, he and I have become very good friends. Today if I visit Riga, we always meet for breakfast and share from our hearts with each other. We have a mutual and genuine respect for one another. The devil had very different plans for our relationship, but we chose to thwart those demonic plans by doing what God told us to do in order to pursue peace with each other.

If you have an offense against someone, you can’t wait until the other person takes action. God may require you to be the initiator of peace. In my case, I couldn’t wait until this pastor chose to reconcile our relationship before I let go of offense. I had to get over it and step out in obedience to the Lord for the sake of His presence in my own life and ministry.

As I look back on that day when I knelt before that pastor in his office, I’d have to say that it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done up to that moment in my life. But I learned a priceless lesson through that experience: The flesh will always want to react when someone hurts or wrongs us. But reacting to carnality with more carnality only escalates the situation into a full-fledged manifestation of strife, creating an atmosphere for every evil work. That’s exactly what the enemy wants to happen so he can move in to bring destruction and ruin into the lives of everyone involved.

On the other hand, if we will choose to obey God by responding to an offense in humility and love, we’ll not only dismantle the enemy’s trap, but we’ll also create a platform for God to move on both sides of the situation in a way that will honor Him and promote His purposes.

Author Biography

Rick Renner
Web site: Rick Renner Ministries
 
Rick and Denise met while they were each on an individual quest to wholeheartedly follow God’s plan for their lives. Rick was a college student, growing in his teaching ministry. Denise was a talented vocalist. She chose not to pursue a course that held the prospect of performing with the Metropolitan Opera so that she could instead pursue a relationship with Rick and fulfill her heart’s desire to enter full-time ministry.
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