“Love initiates in a way that finds a way for both parties to grow closer to the Lord and closer to each other.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 2, 2022
This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. Matthew 5:23-24, MSG
Christians who avoid conflict for the sake of keeping the peace, or hoping it goes away, run a very high risk of traveling an even rougher, rockier relational road. Healthy, relational conflict can be the Holy Spirit’s strategy to smooth off the rough edges of all parties, to make everyone more like Jesus. Even more harmful, avoiding conflict can be the enemy’s open door to build resentment, unforgiveness, and bitterness with the ultimate goal of ending a relationship.
Jesus reminds us that obedience is better than sacrifice in the experience of sacred worship. Our Lord had just taught on the offense of unresolved anger, and suddenly shifts His remarks to a believer’s worship experience. If aware of hurt, initiate relational healing before you worship God. If the worshipper is disobedient by ignoring a believer who has a grudge against him, he is to stop going through the religious motions and go to the one who needs him to work through their conflict. Christians who patronize another’s hurting heart miss the heart of love and obedience.
If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love” (Matthew 18:15-17 MSG).
Initiation works both ways. If someone has something against you—Jesus says for you to go to him and work things out and hopefully be reconciled. If you have something against another, instead of talking about her, go privately and work through your differences with love and respect. If you still do not feel heard, involve an objective third party who can listen with wisdom and care to discern a healthy path going forward…skills to help you both repair relationally. Love initiates.
What are some ways we can approach relationships in a healthy manner especially when we need to deal with conflict? Seeing the other person with eyes of empathy and not as the enemy is a good first step. Empathy doesn’t mean you agree with a person’s conclusions, but it does communicate you care about them as a person and you value your relationship over and above winning an argument. Empathy is relational ointment that soothes achy feelings, and lubricates language with love. Love initiates in a way that finds a way for both parties to grow closer to the Lord and closer to each other. Resist giving up and remember God has not given up on you.
“No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m [relationally] bankrupt without love” (1 Corinthians 13:3, MSG).
Heavenly Father, give me the courage to initiate with love where conflict has caused a relational fracture, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who do I need to go to and ask for forgiveness, or who do I need to lovingly confront and seek relational healing for a hurt I have in my heart caused by her?
Kari Jobe: First Love
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