â€œI am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Meâ€ (John 17:23, HCSB).
The night before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed for our unity: â€œI am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Meâ€ (John 17:23, HCSB). Our unity is the most convincing evidence to the lost world that Jesus is the Savior sent from God. And our disunity is probably the greatest hindrance in leading others to faith in Christ. If you have broken relationships with others, you must be reconciled. Consecrate yourself and reconcile your broken relationships.
â On a separate sheet of paper, list the names of people with whom you Â Â have broken relationships. This would include those you have offended Â Â without seeking forgiveness and those who have offended you. Offenses Â Â can occur as a result of actions, words, or attitudes. Ask God to bring to Â Â mind all those you need to consider.
Your relationship with others has a direct correlation to your relationship with God. Jesus said:
If you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your Â brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Â First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your Â gift (Matthew 5:23-24, HCSB).
Your offerings and even your worship are unacceptable to God if you have caused offenses and have not reconciled. If you are the offender:
1. Â Pray and ask God for help in thorough repentance.
2. Â Go to make things right in obedience to God.
3. Â Confess your sin to God and to those directly affected by the sin.
4. Â Donâ€™t apologize. Ask for forgiveness.
5. Â Go in person if at all possible. Talk face-to-face.
6. Â Donâ€™t reflect negatively on the other person or his actions or attitudes. Deal only Â with your part of the offense.
7. Â Make restitution (pay for the offense) when appropriate.
8. Â If you donâ€™t receive a positive response, continue to pray for and seek Â reconciliation with the unforgiving person.
If you are the one who has been offended, Jesus has instructions for you also. He said, â€œWhenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoingâ€ (Mark 11:25, HCSB). Holding on to unforgiveness limits the way God will forgive you and hinders your prayers. You need to understand and practice forgiveness.
1. Â Forgiveness is fully releasing another from the debt of the offense.
2. Â Forgiveness is a command, not an option: â€œForgive whatever grievances you Â may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave youâ€ (Colossians Â 3:13, NIV).
3. Â You cannot forgive and love in your own strength. The Holy Spirit of Christ can Â enable you to forgive and love. Ask Him for help.
4. Â Forgiveness is a choice of your will, not the result of a feeling. You must choose Â to forgive.
5. Â The person who forgives is the one who has to pay the price of forgiveness. Â Jesus paid the price for you.
6. Â You are never more like Jesus than when you forgive and show grace and mercy. Â Being offended provides you with the invitation to reveal Christ to the offender by Â your forgiveness.
7. Â Forgiveness does not mean the offense was not wrong.
8. Â Forgiveness is not permission for the offender to do it again.
9. Â Forgiveness does not mean you will fully forget. You choose not to hold the Â offense against the person any longer. If the memories return and you start to Â hold on to the offense again, forgive again.
10.Â Â How much do you forgive? Seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). In other Â words, forgive an unlimited number of times.
11.Â Â Jesus said, â€œIf [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and comes Â back to you seven times, saying, â€˜I repent,â€™ you must forgive himâ€ (Luke 17:4, Â HCSB). In other words, even if the offender really doesnâ€™t repent and change his Â ways, you still forgive.
12.Â Â Even if the person doesnâ€™t believe he is wrong, forgive. Jesus set the model for Â us on the cross when He prayed for those who were killing Him: â€œFather, forgive Â themâ€ (Luke 23:34, HCSB).
13.Â Â In Mark 11:25 Jesus didnâ€™t require you to go to the person to forgive. You can do Â that as you pray.
â‹ APPLY these guidelines to the relationships you listed earlier.
â‹ PRAY and ask God to guide and enable you to forgive and reconcile every broken relationship in a way that brings Him glory and brings you freedom and joy. Walk in unity.
1. Adapted from Claude King, Come to the Lordâ€™s Table (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2006), 69â€“73. Iâ€™ve been greatly influenced in the matters of reconciliation and forgiveness by Life Action Ministries; P.O. Box 31; Buchanan, MI 49107-0031; www.lifeaction.org.