Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? ~Matthew 18:21
Conflict resolution is when two parties who have a conflicting and divided opinion about something seek out a third party to assist them with a resolution. Conflicts can result in very bitter and harsh resentments. The one offended refuses to come to terms with the offender until the offender has taken the first step to apologize and seek restoration. Perhaps the area of forgiveness is among the top three struggles many Christians have in their spiritual life. Let us see the insight that our Lord gives us in this area.
We see the root.
The underlying reason why conflicts occur, escalate, and go unresolved is because of pride. We are people who are easily offended, insulted, disrespected, and rudely treated. Our pride tells us to withdraw fellowship. We decide not to have anything to do with the offending party until they remorsefully apologize. We cut off communication and slowly develop bitter feelings against that person. As these carnal feelings have time to fester in our hearts, the spirit of unforgiveness becomes a spiritual stronghold.
We see the responsibility.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesian 4:32). We are commanded to be forgiving, even as our Lord has forgiven us. It is evidence of our walk in the Spirit. “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)” (Ephesian 5:9). The very first words that our Lord cried out on the cross were, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Forgiveness is a necessary virtue that we must be ready to exercise when a conflict arises.
We see the restoration.
Forgiveness involves restoration. If something was taken, it should be restored. If trust was broken, it must be built up over time. Fellowship must be restored. There should be a desire to cooperate and work together for the cause of the gospel. Paul said that we should strive together for the sake of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). When forgiveness is in action, there must be the restoration of a relationship back to where it was before the conflict arose.
We see the repeat.
Sometimes, we can be offended more than once by the same person. None of us desire to be “burned” a second time. That’s what Peter was thinking when Jesus was speaking about conflict resolution. Peter asked, “How often should I forgive someone who has offended me? till seven times?” Jesus gave a radical answer: “Until seventy times seven”! In other words, forgiveness is to be repeated over and over. Real Christianity sees forgiveness as a necessary recurrence in order to attain peace and also be right with God.
We see the resolution.
Where forgiveness is in action, there is resolution between hurt parties. It is never easy, and our human nature tends to make us reserved, but it is the high road to making peace with the offender and doing the right thing in the eyes of God. Real resolution forgives and it forgets. Someone has said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
Is forgiveness the weak link in your Christian armor? Don’t allow unforgiveness to prevail in your life. Let the love of Christ work through you.
Have a forgiving God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Kings 15-17