“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others of their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” —Matthew 6:14-15
The average believer doesn’t typically express much doubt in what God’s Word says about things such as Heaven and Hell, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and a host of other mysterious beliefs and ideas. Yet somehow, we find it really difficult to believe and submit to what God’s Word says when it comes to handling conflict and forgiving others.
Some of us can have a dismissive attitude towards the thought of forgiving or reconciling with someone who’s wronged us. Others of us may desire it but feel that we must avoid conflict or difficult conversations in order to preserve harmony at any cost. Todd Wagner once said, “There is nothing in Scripture that suggests we are to deny or avoid conflict… God’s Word tells us, not only that we are to expect it, but also how we are to handle it.”
Biblically working through conflict is actually pleasing to God because it reveals that we really believe His grace is sufficient for us. God cares about how we deal with the friction and tension in our relationships so that we may love from a “pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). We cannot claim to have been changed by the transformative grace of God only to live in continuous conflict, bitterness, and resentment towards others.
To be clear, forgiveness does not always result in reconciliation and it doesn’t always mean that trust is immediately restored or hard relational dynamics are instantly fixed. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean tolerating bad, harmful, or unhealthy behavior. However, forgiveness releases to God our need for others to be punished, giving it to the only One who is worthy and able to do it with the perfect measures of justice and mercy.
Forgiving others is challenging, but God has made it clear in Scripture that because He has freely forgiven us in Jesus, we are expected (and able) to forgive others. Doing this makes the body of Christ a beautifully unique and compelling community. While the world wars against itself, the church displays a diverse family of people filled with God’s grace and love.
As we draw near to God in prayer, do so in humility, honesty, and sincerity. Confess where you may be holding onto bitterness or resentment and settle it with the Lord by choosing forgiveness. As you choose to forgive those who have hurt or offended you, praise and thank God for forgiving you when you didn’t deserve it.
Today, we ask you to join us in praying for our Men’s Groups Team (Tyler Newsome, Lauren Monaco, coaches, and group leaders) as well as our Women’s Groups Team (Julie Rape, Toni Campbell, coaches, and group leaders) as they continue leading the men and women of our church to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.