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Peacemaking - Part 6

posted Mar 8, 2012, 8:30 AM by Matt Schmitz
This week, we’ll wrap up our series on biblical peacemaking, or resolving conflict in a biblical manner.

We all experience conflict from time-to-time, and the unfortunate thing is that we as Christians frequently adopt the world’s way of dealing with it – that being, fight or flight.

Last week, we addressed the issue of forgiveness. To “forgive” means to release a person from liability to suffer punishment or penalty for having committed a wrong (or offense). I then suggested that forgiveness involves making 4 decisions:
  1. I will not dwell on the incident. 
  2. I will not seek vengeance or retribution. 
  3. I will strive to maintain a loving & merciful attitude toward the offender. 
  4. I am ready to pursue complete reconciliation.
As you can see, the final step in peacemaking is reconciliation.

To be reconciled means to replace hostility and separation with peace and friendship. It doesn’t mean that the person who offended you must now become your closest friend. What it does mean is that your relationship will be at least as good as it was before the offense occurred. Once that happens, an even better relationship may develop.

Here’s a key point: Forgiveness is unconditional. In other words, you can (and should) make the 4 decisions listed above regardless of whether the other person takes responsibility for their words or actions. Reconciliation, however, is conditional. This means that in order for the relationship to be restored, the offender must confess his/her wrongdoing and genuinely repent.

Until that happens, you should pray for the person and continue with the 4 decisions above.

However, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of examining your own role in the conflict and apologizing for any wrongdoing on your part. It’s rare when the conflict is totally the other person’s fault. The other person may have “gone first,” so to speak, but typically there’s been sin on both parts.

Unless you take the initiative in resolving conflict, the relationship will likely deteriorate even further. It is difficult to admit wrongdoing when the other person (in your view) started it or is mostly at fault. Also, you don’t know what their response will be to your apology.

I had a situation once where I went first in apologizing (I assessed my blame at 5%) and the other person never did apologize – FOR ANYTHING! In fact, he basically said, “Well, you should be sorry.”

Initially, I felt like a fool . . . but then I realized that I had done what God wanted me to do. I had pursued peace. 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Pastor Dan