Proverbs 17c

Conflict Resolution.

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 NLT

We’ve all seen it happen. Perhaps we’ve even had it happen to us. A close friendship dissolved over an unresolved issue. A disagreement that never was dealt with properly and which resulted in alienation, accusation, and acrimony. It happens to friendships and even the relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters, and even Christ-followers. Many times these conflicts start with something fairly insignificant and small, but when left unresolved, they fester and grow, like an untreated wound. What began as a small things becomes a big thing because proper steps weren’t taken to begin with. A hurtful word or a painful action causes a crack to develop in a relationship. And when it is not addressed in a godly and timely manner, the enemy takes advantage of the situation and begins to pry and press on that crack in an effort to widen and worsen it. Jesus told us that the enemy comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants to destroy our relationships, kill our friendships, and steal the benefits available to us through community. Satan hates love. It’s that simple. Yet Solomon reminds us that “love prospers when a fault is forgiven” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT). God is love and He desires that we live lives of love for Him and others. But it is impossible to love when we refuse to forgive. We are incapable of love if we demand our rights and hold on to all the bad things done to us. Our harboring of anger, resentment and bitterness to the other person does little to change or convict them, but it can end up destroying us – from the inside out. It produces a toxic blend of bitterness, anger, and resentment that becomes like a cancer in our system, eating us away internally and destroying us spiritually. Paul tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT). We are to forgive in the same way we have been forgiven by God. No qualifications. No conditions. No grading on the curve. Just forgive. Is forgiving hard to do? You bet. Especially when someone refuses to admit that they were wrong or that they even hurt us. And even harder than forgiving is forgetting. We may feel like we’ve forgiven that person, but then the next time we see them we are reminded once again of all that they did to us. The memories resurface and the resentment bubbles to the surface once again. It’s normal and natural. But that’s when we need to turn it over to the Lord and ask for His help. Letting go of a wrong done to us is difficult, but no impossible. God would not have commanded us to forgive one another if was impossible. He has provided us with all the power we need to obey through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. But we have to acknowledge our need for help and request His assistance. We have to confess our own anger, bitterness and unforgiving spirit and ask the Holy Spirit for the strength we need to give up and let go – whether the other party ever confesses their wrong or asks for our forgiveness. “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT). It grows within us. It produces life instead of death. It thwarts the enemy’s attempts to drive a wedge between us and others. It reminds us of how much we have been forgiven by God. Life is too short to spend it bitter, angry, and resentful. Listen to these words from The Message paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Father, it is so easy to hold a grudge. It is so easy to get hurt and grow bitter by what others say or do to us. But You have called us to love. You have commanded us to forgive. And You have modeled it perfectly through the life of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me learn to let go of my grudges more quickly, forgive more readily, and love more willingly. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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