May 2013

Untying a Knot

Through the years I have tied 1,000s of knots. I was not a Boy Scout who took a knot class or knew a variety of knots, but I learned to tie some very simple and basic knots (enough to get me in trouble). I have realized that all knots have a purpose; to keep something in place or secure, whether it is keeping a motorcycle on a trailer; a little sister in a chair; a piece of furniture from falling out of the back of a truck; a swing on a tree, a Christmas tree from falling over, a button on a shirt; or a hook on a fishing line. Knots are valuable in the grand scheme of life, and trying to untie a knot can be very difficult, tedious, and frustrating. 

As I ponder over the concept of knots, I have found that I have tied some very interesting figurative knots throughout my life-knots that have tied me up, because of my attitude, words, or actions. Knots of anger. Knots of hurtful words. Knots of disobedience. Knots of broken trust. Knots of foolishness. Knots of sin. Trying to untie a relationship knot, like any other knot, can be very humbling, tedious, and difficult. 

Knots of sin keep us tied up in respect to our relationship with God and others.  David noted this about his knot (sin), “When I kept silent about my sin (knot), my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah” (Ps 32:3,4). David tells us that the knot of sin had physical and emotional effects upon his life. For him, the knot was like a hangman noose that became tighter and tighter, almost suffocating him in his spiritual, emotional, and physical life. The knot that David was dealing with was a sinful relationship with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. 

At Dallas Theological Seminary, some 35 years ago, the first class I had was “baby Greek,” and the first word that I learned was “luo”- the Greek word for forgiveness. “Luo” or forgiveness literally means “to untie the knot.” Thus, forgiveness is literally untying a knot that we made for ourselves by the things we have said or done to hurt another person. And if you are like me, untying a relationship knot is difficult and humbling. But by God grace, and our willingness, we can untie the knot of our sin and have a healthy relationship with those we hurt and disappoint.

How to untie a knot:
1.  First, we must admit to ourselves that we made a knot; that we hurt another person. David said, “I acknowledge my sin.”  One can’t deal with knots unless one recognizes there is a knot.

2.  Second, acknowledge the knot to God and ask for forgiveness. John tells us about untying the knot, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). God is willing to forgive and untie the knot with Him, if we are honest and open with Him. 

3.  Third, if the knot is against another person, you must initiate a process to reestablish the relationship- that is reconciliation. Jesus said, "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, (24) leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matt 5:23-24). Part of untying the knot is humbly acknowledging our sin to the person we offended and seeking to remove the barriers to that relationship. 

4.  Fourth, when untying a knot against another person, you may need to right what has been wronged by compensating for loss, damage, or injury- that is called restitution.

The goal of untying the knot (forgiveness) is relationship restoration. It is not necessarily going back to where the relationship was before the sin occurred, but moving in a positive, healthy, and Biblical direction with people that God has put in our lives.  Therefore, work on untying some knots this week!                                                              

                                                                                                                            -Pastor Mike Kotrla