In my last post I wrote that dealing with conflict in the biblical way, in Christ’s way, will forever change our hearts. This is true, that in doing things His way, our lives are built up in Him. But it is also true that life is really messy. Relationships are messy. People are messy.
On one hand, we know that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). The LORD puts people in our lives who will challenge us. Sometimes they are on our side, challenging us to reach our potential. But many times the people in our lives, including family, are challenging our patience, our ability to love, our willingness to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11). As one friend of mine says, “they are part of our sanctification process.” It might be a dubious honor to be told that you are part of someone’s sanctification process…that knowing you causes them to grow in patience.
On the other hand, as Christians, while we are obligated to love, we are not obligated to be in relationship with people who prey on us, manipulate us, or abuse us. I read an amazing book called The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It (amazon.com link) by Christian counselor Leslie Vernick. If you are dealing with difficult people in your life, I highly recommend it. Leslie discusses the way to confront in love and when necessary, how to create separation, in a godly way, from people who constantly try to draw you into conflict, control you, or do you harm.
We have been discussing being sorry, seeking forgiveness and finding reconciliation. Sadly, there may be people in our lives who are not sorry when they sin, because they feel justified in their selfish and destructive behaviors. There are people who do not seek forgiveness, because they cannot humble themselves to do it. There are people who play at saying sorry and seeking forgiveness, but are not interested in true reconciliation because that requires repentance, the turning away from sin to go the other way, and they do not want to change their ways. If you are in a relationship with this sort of person, or you are this sort of person, the Bible has so many answers that one post cannot contain them all. If you need help finding these answers in the Bible, I recommend you buy the book by Leslie Vernick.
The focus of this post has a happy ending. Every day is an opportunity to rewrite the story of your life. You can choose to live differently if you are “stuck” in a destructive relationship. You do not have to be drawn into conflict. You can be at peace when others are embroiled in bitterness. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:4-7).
If you are the one “stuck” in habits that are destructive to your relationships, you can choose to live differently. Reconciliation with God and the people in our lives is as simple as 1,2,3: (1) admitting the wrong, (2) seeking forgiveness, and (3) repenting. Repenting is key to reconciliation. It is the decision to seek to LORD’s will rather than insisting on our own way. In all of our relationships, withGod and man, we must seek His will and obey. As Paul said, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).
justAgirl…just like you!