Your friend royally hurt your feelings. Their words stung deep. There was no ‘I’m sorry’, no acknowledgement of wrongdoing. So what do you do? Many of us take the easy way out in conflict. We talk to others about the problem instead of confronting the person who hurt us. Perhaps we think it’ll make things worse, maybe we’re just plain scared. But Jesus gave us instructions on how to handle messy relationships.
He said in Matthew 18:17, If your friend sins against you go straight to that person. Then if he still doesn’t make it right, take another person along and try again. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
But here’s the catch. How did Jesus treat the outsiders and tax collectors? He ate supper with them! He showed them kindness. He treated them with dignity and love when others scoffed.
Jesus never slammed a relational door shut. He always left it cracked open for anyone who decided they wanted forgiveness and reconciliation.
So what does that mean for us? How do we love those who hurt us and created conflict? We follow Jesus’s lead. We try multiple times to make peace. If they decide not to change, we have the right to distance ourselves. But we leave the door cracked open in our hearts.
If they come back and ask for forgiveness? Forgive. Doesn’t mean you are best friends. Doesn’t mean you devote your life to them. But you freely offer the most important gift you have to share–God’s grace.
Because that’s what Jesus did for you.
Application Questions: Who have you had a hard time forgiving? Even if reconciliation isn’t possible right now, how can you leave your heart open to forgive?
(originally featured as an ODB daily devotional)
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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.