Humility & Reconciliation in Hurting Human Relationships
One of the things I love about having a big family is that it gives our children skads of opportunities to interact with people who (from time to time) rub them the wrong way. Better than that, they’re forced to work through it and KEEP living alongside one another, loving and learning to lay down their own preferences in loving pursuit of peace. Lots of opportunities for hurt makes for lots of opportunities for forgiveness and peacemaking.
I think God means the same thing to be true within the Body of Christ. It’s so clear to me in the Word:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
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. ~Matthew 18:15
Strive for peace with everyone. ~Hebrews 12:14
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
If your brother sins, rebuke him,
and if he repents, forgive him. ~Luke 17:3
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. ~1 Peter 4:8
Bearing with one another and, if one has
a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you,
so also you must forgive. ~Colossians 3:13
Those who plan peace have joy. ~Proverbs 12:20
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. ~Matthew 5:9
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~Romans 12:18
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God ~1 Peter 5:6
As sinners, we (unfortunately) WILL offend each other. It happens in our homes. It happens in our workplaces. It happens in our churches. Every human relationship is marred by hurt, and peace and reconciliation is an ongoing need of our hearts.
But what happens? All too often, after the hurt, we run into our corners, determined to either keep fighting another round, OR to exit the ring, licking our wounds. It is very rare (at least, it’s been rare in my life experiences) to see wounded parties meeting together ON PURPOSE to pursue peace.
Sometimes language is used like, “There’s something you need to know,” “Let’s clear the air,” or “I’ve got a few things I want to say to you.” Sometimes there is complete avoidance of actual discussion. But rarely is PEACE a true goal after fists have flung and bruising has occurred.
But in Christ, it ought to be. I loved so much of what James MacDonald said at Resurgence in November (Here’s an audio recording of his talk; SO good!— skip to 4:30 on the audio to get to his talk.). Here’s a smattering:
“When it’s hardest to love, when it’s personal and painful, humble yourself.”
“Love them. Even when it hurts. Even when it costs.”
“Own it all, to reconcile.”
That last statement was the most impactful part, for me. Here’s what he said:
“Generally in conflict within relationships, there’s fault on both sides, but they can’t see it. If you want to work it out, OWN IT ALL. Forego all opportunity to clarify your position. God loves humility. With God the way UP is DOWN.”
I actually heard Matt Chandler say something similar, in September. He used Zaccheus as an example of someone who, when he was captivated by Christ, paid back even more than what he owed. “As the people of God, we own everything and then some. Even if we only ‘owned’ 2% of the conflict, we own it all.“
(This is a moment when I feel the need to clarify– I’m not at all advocating some extreme position that the way for a battered woman to have peace with her abusive husband is to own all the responsibility.)
What I’m saying is, in normal everyday conflicts that happen in human relationships, there are times when our flesh and our enemy work together to convince each party in a conflict that their portion of the conflict is slight. Each side feels justified in withholding forgiveness, and believes its own “case” is the strong one. The vitriol amps up as each side replays the hurts and justifies all manner of ungodly behavior (fury, gossip, hostility, self-justification, pride, judgment, indignation, slander).
But the humblest man of all, the God-man Christ, is our example. HE is the One that we follow. When accused, He did not answer back. He took all of the punishment and mistreatment that He did not deserve. And He did it for a people, and for peace. His aim was RECONCILIATION.
As joint-heirs with Him, following in His way, our aim should also be reconciliation. Even if that means owning more than our “share.” Even if that means owning it all.
This last year has provided me with a few opportunities to pursue reconciliation in tense or stressful circumstances. I’m so thankful to have had these godly men pounding me with the Word so that I was motivated and convicted to do the right thing, even when I didn’t feel like it.
Let me share a few final, challenging word from James MacDonald :
“Refuse to be offended. I’ve asked God to remove my sensitivity. Do nothing when you’re hurt. Do nothing from hurt or because of hurt. Hurting people hurt.”
Wow. I’ll let that one stand on its own, except to say this:
Sometimes we women in particular need to take a step back, breathe deeply, and work diligently to step out of our pain and strive to see things from the perspective of the other person. Strive to put things in the most favorable light, rather than seeing them in the most hurtful.
When reconciliation and peace become our overarching goal, above and beyond being heard, above and beyond giving someone else their just dessert, above and beyond ensuring that everything is seen rightly in the eyes of all human persons involved… we are taking on the description of sons of God: a peacemaker. And ultimately, this promise is ours:
Those who plan peace have joy. ~Proverbs 12:20
Images courtesy of DavidCastilloDominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Katie also shared some great thoughts in October about conflict resolution: 6 TIPS FOR BIBLICAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION – Definitely worth reading.
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