Few things are as tragic as a broken relationship, whether it’s a divorce, a broken friendship, or a rift between a parent and wayward child (or a child and wayward parent).
In all of my travels, I have never met someone who recently endured a divorce who was happy and celebrating. Rather, the divorce left a wound, or a scar, an emotional injury from which the divorcee has to heal. Many people do heal, and rebuild their lives, but that broken marriage still turned their world upside down.
I’ve seen parents mourn over their children who, once grown, left home in a “blaze of glory,” never to return. I’ve seen longtime friendships broken over a conflict.
Each of these scenarios is a tragedy. It’s traumatic. If you’ve been through it, you know it. God knows it, too. That is why God is such a proponent of forgiveness and reconciliation. God wants to see our broken relationships restored. It’s through that restoration that we can find true healing.
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
The word “trespass” means someone has sinned against you. They have wronged you in a way that caused you harm, either physically, emotionally or financially. Some translate “trespass” as “to miss the mark.” While that was one way the Greeks used the word from which “trespass” was translated, if you look at the context of this passage, you see that we have a pretty big conflict, one that might involve the entire church. Such does not happen because someone “missed the mark,” had an “oopsie,” or made a minor error. Something bad happened as a result of someone’s action, and Jesus is now talking to the victim of that action. The trespass that has occurred could very well break the relationship.
You’ve probably already thought of someone who has trespassed against you. Someone in your past (or possibly present) has hurt you, and it has either ended the relationship, or is going to end the relationship. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus is talking to you.
Jesus said “Go, and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” In other words, confront him. Now, the goal of this confrontation is to restore the relationship (to reconcile,) so the way this confrontation goes down is of the utmost importance.
The point of the confrontation is not to tell the offender how wrong they are, and how awful they are. While it is important to show how the trespass affected you, once the offender shows remorse and repentance, it is time to discuss how the two of you can heal the relationship and move forward.
Jesus said, “If he shall hear thee, thou has regained thy brother.” That is the goal. That is the desire. That is not only pleasing to God, but will bring about peace and healing in your life. Sometimes the offender won’t hear you, and that’s not your fault. If you cannot reconcile, then forgive.
Forgiveness simply means “letting it go.” You will neither demand nor expect restitution or compensation, and you will not seek retribution. You will simply let them go.
God is all about reconciliation and forgiveness. When we sinned against Him, we hurt Him. The crowning point of His creation spit in His face and turned their back on Him. Yet, God took the steps to reconcile man to Himself. It’s why He sent Jesus to the Cross, and why He continues to empower the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.
So, don’t live another day with the wound of a broken relationship. Seek reconciliation if possible. And, if impossible, forgive, then move on. God will then heal you, and take you into the next chapter of your life.
-Posted by Pastor Leland Acker. You can follow him at Facebook.com/LelandAckerMinistries, or on Twitter at Twitter.com/LelandAcker