Being in relationship with others, leads to pain and disharmony at times. We long for unity because our Creator put the desire for it in our hearts. All throughout scripture we see disunity followed by conflict when sin entered the world. But Jesus. He entered the world to end the conflict and restore unity between God and sinners. His death and resurrection made reconciliation possible.
Once our relationship with God has been restored, we are then called to be ministers of reconciliation. ”All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:18,20). Paul goes on to say to the Corinthians, we must open wide our hearts, allowing God’s compelling love to flow through us to others (2 Cor. 5:14, 6:11).
As ministers of reconciliation, we know it’s possible to heal hurts and restore harmony, not just with God, but in our relationships through the power of the gospel! However, we don’t always know the practical steps to take in leading ourselves and others toward reconciliation in our relationships. Here are practical steps we can follow and lead others to follow as well:
Prepare for hard conversations by spending time with God-asking Him to show you how you’ve hurt the other person. Confess that to God to receive His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Ask the other person to tell you how you’ve hurt them or confess to them how you know that you’ve hurt them. Be sure to identify how your actions or words might have made them feel and show empathy while expressing care for the pain that was felt. 2 Cor. 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Then take responsibility for the pain that you caused them by telling them you were wrong and asking them for forgiveness. Making excuses and defending your behavior are unhealthy and unproductive responses. Healthy emotional responding always includes understanding, gentleness, empathy, and reassurance. Express statements like, “I genuinely regret my part in hurting you” or “I now see that I hurt you by my___________.” Followed by, “Will you please forgive me?” 2 Cor. 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
If someone has hurt you, we are called to forgive them, just as we ourselves are forgiven. The gospel should compel us to forgive. Colossians 3:13 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)