Barriers to Forgiving Others

A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.
Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where there has been a wall of separation erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.

For example, if a loved one is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse or some other harmful behavior they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive but if they ask that we go back to the way it was the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurt us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.

An example of this would be a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is an act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free. It’s been said that sometimes you just gotta love people from a distance.” There is great wisdom in that.

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Forgiveness Is The Key

God cares about our relationships and wants us to be right with one another. Too often close relationships are torn apart due to hurts, misunderstandings, offenses, pride, unresolved issues, and emotions can run deep, cut at the heart filling us with bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness.

And usually, it’s the relationships we treasure the most that breakdown and cause the deepest pain. Rather than confront the issues, it may seem easier to avoid, blame others and feel justified holding on to our hurts and anger.

Yet God calls us higher. His word says that as much as depends on us to live at peace with all people (Romans 12:18). We need to forgive those who have wounded us and ask for forgiveness when we have wounded others. We will never be free unless we learn how to forgive and release our offenders at the foot of the cross.

We need only take ownership of our wrong doings and leave the rest at God’s feet endeavoring always to extend grace and leave the door open for reconciliation whenever possible.

Are you struggling with forgiveness? Sometimes all it takes is to go to Jesus with a sincere heart and ask Him to give you a willingness to forgive, make amends and pursue peace. There is nothing that He can’t do with a willing and surrendered heart.

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The Grace Sifter In Relationship Conflict

Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict.  Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether.  None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.

What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized.  If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance were the names of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this.  It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.

God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter.  Nothing gets through unless it contains grace.  Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.

The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3:14

 

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