A Season for Reconciliation and Love
During this season of celebration, we are doubly blessed. We can celebrate God’s miracle provision in Chanukah and the birth of Messiah at Christmas. Although many of us believe that Jesus was born at Tabernacles, celebrating His birth is always a good idea. Along with holiday celebrations, some of us experience conflict and family tension. Thank God, He has given us clear direction to forgive one another.
We are called to be “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). It is our privilege to introduce people to the Messiah, Jesus. We are further called to help people be reconciled to one another. It is a gracious gift, part of our walk with God, to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing His peace established (Philippians 4:7) and His love increase between folks (Romans 5:5).
After years of counseling in a variety of contexts, I am convinced that the dynamic of repentance and forgiveness is virtually a “re-start button” in human relationships.
Forgiveness Plays a Central Role
Whether in marriage, as parents, with friends or extended family, forgiveness plays a central role in helping us be free and full of love for one another.
The question naturally arises, “how can I reconcile with another, and how can I teach those in my sphere to do this with each other?” So often our attempts at “getting it together” wind up being superficial and unsatisfying. Let’s look at a Holy Spirit inspired set of steps that anyone can use. It is drawn from the tried and true approaches to relational health that I call “God’s Greatest Hits”, which my wife and I have taught for years in our marriage seminar entitled “From This Day Forward”. As soon as you know you have hurt another (which takes honesty and a measure of humility) go to that one and employ these Steps to Reconciliation. Respond to the following with clear, concise statements without any explanation or justification for your behavior:
1. This is what I did wrong or what I did to hurt you.
2. This is the pain that I believe I put you through.
3. This is how I feel about putting you through that pain.
4. Then, express your sincere desire and intention to change this behavior and not bring this pain into the relationship in the future.
5. Finally, ask, Can you forgive me for this pain I have brought to you or this wrong I have done to you?
NOTE: If you go through this exercise with empty words and do not follow through with sincere and diligent effort to change, you will only succeed in disappointing the other person again and betraying his/her trust. On the other hand, when followed sincerely, you will experience a fresh presence of God and an anointing of love that will astound you! (Psalm 133)