Healing Relationships (03) - Forgiveness and the Process of Confrontation
Healing Relationships - A Spiritual Discipline - In this Lenten Season we are studying Healing Relationships. Repentance (as a Lenten theme) requires relational healing with God and people, as well the discipline of a clear conscience. The Apostle Paul, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16, NIV). Let us strive to keep our consciences clear before God and man in order to facilitate healing relationships.
Healing Relationships - Seeking Peace in Confrontation - When a breach of a relationship happens, there are two categories of resolution: those offenses we a) forgive without requiring further action. This is being "tender-hearted" and letting "love cover a multitude of sins" (Eph. 4:32, 1 Pt. 4:8).
b) If issues arise to a higher level, we must use the means of sequential, humble confrontation (Mt. 18:15ff) to give opportunity for the peaceful resolution. Our temptation, however, is to hold something against someone without doing either (a or b), but instead rallying others to our allegations by gossiping about others. To pursue peace, you must determine to forgive without confrontation or confront the offender or person you have offended. Act to pursue peace.
When do you forgive without the process of confrontation and when do you forgive in the process of confrontation? There is no rule about this. But here are some considerations:
We should be more and more willing to forgive without the need for confrontation. I would consider this to apply to many relational difficulties which border on personality issues.
When you cannot specify the sin clearly, try to forgive and move on. If you continue to rehearse this (alleged) sin against you, then you need to follow-through with meeting with the person.
It may be useful to use the process of confrontation, so that the other person becomes aware of what you take to be an offense. This could be an opportunity for growth for all parties.
If you tend to minimize offense against you, sweep things under the rug, hold grudges, the you should fall on the side of confrontation. You may be struggling with a fear of confrontation and you spiritual growth depends upon stepping up to the plate.
If you tend to be so sensitive that you often take offense from even people’s non-verbal communication, then you should practice forgiving and moving on without confrontation. Grow thicker skin and remember your identity in Christ. You have Him, what else do you require?
What to say in confrontation: Something has been bothering me and I want to keep a clear conscience, you did _______________ (to me). That seemed to be ______________________ (violation of some clear commandment) and I wanted to give you a chance to address this ___________________.
Know the Six Principles of Reconciliation that Heal Relationships: PEOPLE
1) Pursue Peace
2) Examine Yourself
3) Offenses Defined
4) Process Offenses (1 or 2)
5) Listen in Confrontation
6) Exercise a Renewed Mind to Restore Trust
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more