God has restored our relationship with Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. – II Corinthians 5:18
At this exact moment, I am the least pleased with my brother. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to learn in this chapter. Just as a reminder, we are all sinners, we sin – we’re human, it’s our nature to sin. More people are reading this blog now, and I don’t want you to view me as perfect. I have flaws I will continue to work on, and try my best to be transparent with you about. I will never be perfect, but I will continue to try my best in being a good example to my generation. Jesus is the ONLY perfect one, and He is whom we all need to emulate!
Relationships are always worth restoring. Paul taught that our ability to get along with one another is a mark of spiritual maturity. Since Christ wants His family to be known for our love for each other, broken fellowship is a disgraceful testimony to unbelievers. If you want God’s blessing on your life, or you want to be known as a child of God, you must be a peacemaker. Peacemaking is not always giving in, allowing others to run you over, avoiding conflict, running from a problem, pretending it doesn’t exist, or being afraid to talk about it.
God has called us to settle our relationships with each other, and the following 7 biblical steps will help us:
Talk to God before talking to the person: If we vent to God, before venting to a friend, we will see that God will either change our heart, or the heart of the other person even without your help. Many hurts we feel are rooted in unmet needs, needs we put in our spouses, pastors, parents, children, BF/GF, etc. Only GOD can meet all you need, so placing any need in others is only setting us up for bitterness and disappointments. In James 1: 1-3, we’re asked…and answered; “what causes fights and quarrels among you?… You want something but you don’t get it… You do not have because you do not ask God.”
Always take the initiative: As children of God, it doesn’t matter whether we’re the offender or offended, God expects us to make the first move. Restoring fellowship is so important to the point that Jesus commanded that it take priority over group worship. In Matthew 5:23-24, He said, “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” Personally, the height of my anger is when I walk away…I’m just done. I’m learning that after I have calmed down to a reasonable degree (this shouldn’t take too long), I need to tackle the root of my issue with the other person. Depending on the extent of the issue, you may or may not have to involve a middle-man both parties look up to.
Sympathize with their feelings: Use your ears more than your mouth. In Philippians 2:4, Paul admonishes us to “look out for the interest of others, not just ourselves.” Begin with sympathy, not solutions. David, referred to by God as a man after God’s heart admitted in Psalm 73:21 that, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal; I did not understand you.” When people are upset, they speak illogically, allow them vent without judging. In Proverbs 19:11, we see that “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” As much as I would love to say I am full of wisdom, this verse arrests my soul! I need more wisdom to become more patient, something I really am not… God please help me, amen.
Confess your part of the conflict: Admitting our mistake is the best way to see things more clearly. Matthew 7:5 says, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Confession is a powerful tool for reconciliation. When we accept responsibility for our mistakes and ask for forgiveness, we propel the other person to do likewise.
Attack the problem, not the person: Proverbs 15:1 sys, “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” I am especially skilled in sarcasm, especially when I feel that the question at hand is ‘stupid’, but I’m learning that what is so obvious to me, may not be so to others, vise versa. In Proverbs 16:21, we’re told that a “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.” Nagging never works… NEVER, just trust me on that one! In resolving conflicts we must remember that how we say things is as important as what we say.
Cooperate as much as possible: Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Living at peace comes with a price. Sometimes, it costs us our pride, we have to compromise, adjust to others, etc. But God promises that we are blessed when we work as peacemakers.
Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution: Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem. It’s very possible to establish relationships even when we’re unable to resolve differences. God expects unity from us, not uniformity. Think about whom you need to contact as a result of this chapter… wait no more, talk to God about it. Then, begin the process. Call them, send that text, and follow these seven steps. I know it’s not easy, and it takes a lot of effort to restore a fellowship, but it will all be worth it at the end.
Food for thought: Who do I need to restore a broken relationship with today?