I wish I could believe you then I’ll be alright
But now everything you told me really don’t apply
To the way I feel inside
Loving you was easy once upon a time
But now my suspicions of you have multiplied
And it’s all because you lied
- Beyonce, Resentment
Look, I apologize, often womanize
Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes
Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles
Took me too long for this song, I don’t deserve you
- JAY-Z, 4:44
When Beyonce dropped Lemonade, it sent shockwaves through the music industry, as well as through her fanbase. Queen Bey’s gritty and raw honesty exposed her revelation of husband Jay-Z’s infidelity, leaving many of her devotees wondering if this was the end of the power couple. The debate about whether they should stay together dominated the news cycle, but to the surprise of many, they stayed together. Regardless of whether you are a multi-platinum artist—o ran elementary school student—you will encounter conflict. Reconciling with people is a core habit that keeps us in healthy relationships with others and demonstrates authentic reconciliation with God.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:12-13)
Sadly, the habit of simply cutting people off or maintaining distance from them has become more common than reconciliation. We tend to resent those who offend us. But, is there a better way? The habit of healthy Christians is to move toward the tensions we experience when we have a conflict with those in our lives. We are to bear with one another. Jesus taught directly and clearly about reconciling with people, and his instruction is helpful in guiding our steps towards reconciliation.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (Matthew 17:15-16)
Step One: Go
When someone has offended you, or you realize you may have offended someone (see Matthew 5:23-24), Jesus instructs us to take the initiative to make peace. The first step is to go. Go to God and pray for the person, and the situation. Then, immediately go to the person to address the matter. We must decide to do something about the conflict as soon as possible, and make it a priority to do it quickly.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be
reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Jesus taught that this is such a high priority, it’s more important than participating in a worship service. The instruction He gave was “leave your gift there and go.” What a clear picture of urgency! Conflict is not an accident that disrupts our lives. Conflict is an assignment that God has given us to shape His children to be more like Jesus. Conflict helps us grow, provides us with the opportunity to serve others, and can give glory to God—when we handle it the right way. A busy schedule is not an excuse for ignoring an offense. The priority God places on this assignment is so high that even if someone has an issue with us but hasn’t yet disclosed it, we must approach them to make peace if we’re aware of their offense. The goal in such situations is not to win an argument, but to win a sister or brother.
Step Two: Tell Him His Fault
The next step is to state the issue.
Explaining what the person did + How it made you feel = Stating the Issue.
Stating the issue is not trying to explain what the person was thinking. We can’t read a person’s mind to know their motives, neither can they read ours. This step also involves listening to the person’s point of view. If you are the person in Matthew 5:23 who realizes someone has an issue with you, ask “What have I done or said that may have offended you?” After hearing or stating the issue, make sure to restate what was heard or stated. For example: “So when I cut you off while you were talking, you thought it was because I don’t value your ideas?”. Confirm what you heard, because it may or may not be what offended them. We cannot reconcile if we don’t truly know what was offensive in the first place.
Step 3: Between You And Him Alone
Another major mistake that we make, which prevents reconciling with others, is that we don’t keep the offense private between the two parties involved. We often tell other people first—or subtweet—leaving people to wonder “Are they talking about me?”
Jesus made it clear that we are to establish the setting by going to the person in private and discussing the situation. When we share the offense with other people, it causes more distrust and disunity.
Step 4: If He listens, You’ve Gained A Brother
The objective that Jesus articulates is not a goal to win an argument and cause more guilt. The goal to “gain” a sister or brother happens when we listen to what someone says, and accept responsibility for what we did. The worst attempts at reconciliation begin with “If I offended you, I’m sorry, but __________.” That apology avoids taking responsibility. Instead, expressing “I didn’t mean to offend you when I __________, I’m sorry, I didn’t think of how that might be offensive or hurtful to you. Will you forgive me?” Expressing where to go from there also demonstrates a commitment to the relationship that is really meaningful. By asking “How would you want the situation to be handled, should it arise again?” shows repentance and a desire to make things right by doing better in the future.
Step 5: If He Doesn’t Listen
Unfortunately, because we are broken people, completing all these steps doesn’t guarantee forgiveness and reconciliation. Sometimes a person is not ready to reconcile with you at that moment. Jesus gave us a word for that as well. If the first attempt fails, try again and involve someone else who desires to be a peacemaker. If that effort also doesn’t work then it’s important to remember Paul’s word to us:
If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Because we live in a broken world, not everything will be completely whole, but we are still called to be peacemakers and reconcilers. One day, the One who reconciled us to Himself will return and restore perfect relationships with Himself and others. Until then, let’s work as much as possible to reconcile with each other.
- What does our approach to reconciliation reveal about our relationship with God?
- Which of these steps would you like to grow in?
- Who is someone you need to reconcile with? Reach out to them now to do so.
Suggested Worship Meditation: My Father Was/Is