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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Conflict and unilateral forgiveness

You've been in conflict with someone(s) before and so have I.
One of the normal goals in conflict is the restoration of the relationship through forgiveness.  While you and I might not resolve every issue - we can restore the relationship - and then work on the issues.
But have you ever thought about forgiving before the conversation of restoration takes place?
Have you ever thought about forgiving "that person" before you walk into the "peace conference"?
Paul writes in Colossians 3:13, "You must make allowances for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."
I interpret that verse to mean that I must not only forgive a person who has offended me after I have relayed to them my hurts and grievances - but before I even speak with them!
The Bible says in Proverbs 19:11, "A  man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."
What does that mean?  Well, people hurt us all the time.  If every time you get your feelings hurt or you are wounded you want to turn it into a battle - you will live your life in turmoil, bitterness and resentment.
Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying that you avoid conflict resolution.  The longer conflict is avoided - the worse it gets.  I am saying that if you can forgive an offense and move on with life and it not come up like every time  you think of that person or see them, you can live in freedom.
At the same time - the conflict needs to be resolved.
But in the midst of that conflict resolution - instead of wanting to hurt the other person as much as they have hurt you (and wanting them to come and fall of their faces in repentance and groveling for forgiveness) - have an attitude of forgiveness as you walk into the meeting.  Come with a heart of making peace and not war.  Come wanting to reconcile and not to perpetuate the problem.
I am asking you to forgive - before you meet with that person.
It is called "unilateral forgiveness."  Forgiveness given even before it is asked for. 
Jesus on the cross said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  No one was asking for forgiveness - but He forgave.
Does that mean that there won't be consequences of that person's actions?  No, there will always be consequences.
Does that make the other person right?  No, forgiveness doesn't make the other person right, forgiveness sets you free - and opens a window for the restoration of the relationship.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

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