The Lord Jesus calls His narrow road followers to live a life far above what the world thinks is normal. Relationships are important to God and He demands the narrow road follower of Jesus does everything in his power to restore broken relationships. You see this in the Lord’s foundational teaching to his disciples. Read this carefully.
“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.” [Matt 5:23-24 (MSG)]
Notice we cannot say we are okay with God when someone can point their finger at us and say, “This person offended me, they wronged me and never made it right.” Jesus demands his followers take the hard road and go back to that person.
1/ So before you ask someone to forgive you for wronging them, examine yourself. Even get help from a friend and pinpoint what you did that was wrong. Then and only then ask these important questions and carefully answer them:
- Is there a change I need to make in my behavior? If this is a recurring attitude or bad habit, I need to address it.
- Should I make restitution for what I did? If my action cost them something or damaged something, I need to replace or pay them compensation.
- Have I thought through my action now and relived my offense through their feelings and viewpoint?
- Can I say I have fully forgiven them for any wrong they did to me? Even if you feel they have been the chief problem it does not matter, you can and must answer to God for your actions.
2/ Then while preparing yourself to make things right… Choose your wording and make sure it does not imply blame to them or others? No excuses. Ask yourself, “Am I trying to justify my offenses in any way?” Remember:
- Go over your wording carefully and make sure it does not imply blame to them or others?
- Make no excuses for your words or deeds. Ask yourself, “Am I trying to justify my offenses in any way?”
- Write out your words and make sure they are very specific.
- Frame your words carefully showing genuine sincerity and humility. For example your beginning is important, “I have acted foolishly and damaged the trust of our relationship. God has convicted me that my outburst of anger towards you this morning…”
- Next clearly say “…I was wrong…”
- Then make sure you finish with the question, “Could you please forgive me?” Then in humility wait for their answer.
- Am I prepared to continue to respond correctly even if they will not forgive?
- How can I sincerely thank them if they do forgive me?
- Could I dare ask them to help me and reveal further “blind spots” I have that damage them and others?
Lord Jesus, I ________________ [your name], do purpose in my heart, by Your grace, to believe that everything that happens to me You allow for a specific purpose—for my good. I know You promise me that all things, no matter how bad they seem, will work out for my good by your loving hand [Romans 8:28]. So by faith I will seek You for that purpose. I will not allow others to take [steal] my joy, by bitterness, but to forgive them as You have forgiven me.
Let these Bible verses give you support and faith in God. Memorize them and allow them to strengthen you in your days of trouble.
“…Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Daniel 1:8
Beware “…lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Hebrews 12:15
And remember, in this context, bitterness is simply the result of not seeing suffering from God’s perspective. Use the hurts of your past to remember what it cost the Lord to forgive you.
Let’s read Matthew 18:21-35 (NKJV):
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
No matter how hard it seems to forgive and ask for forgiveness, God demands the follower of Jesus to forgive others every wrong no matter how big it seems or how deep the hurt because every sin we have committed was an offense against our holy God. He offers forgiveness by the sacrifice of the death of Jesus.
Use the hurts of your past to know how others feel when you offend and sin against them, and let that drive you to sorrow, repentance, and restitution. Make things right so that no one can point their finger at you and say you sinned against them and never tried to make it right.
Double check and make sure the following qualities (Gal. 5:22-23) are in yourself as you determine to forgive and love those who even made themselves your enemies:
- LOVE [God’s way is giving to others without expecting anything in return]
- JOY [God’s way is reproducing Christ’s character]
- PEACE [God’s way is a conscience clear of all offense to God and man]
- PATIENCE [God’s way is responding to irritations with enduring love]
- GENTLENESS [God’s way is the spirit of understanding]
- GOODNESS [God’s way is Christ-like actions and responses no matter what]
- FAITH [God’s way is fulfilling God’s purposes without knowing the future results]
- MEEKNESS [God’s way is yielding all my rights to God]
- SELF-CONTROL [God’s way is developing moral freedom in every circumstance]
Please, please, please remember the importance of rebuilding your relationships! Jesus tells the narrow road follower of Jesus, “go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” [Matt 5:23-24 (MSG)] If you want a relationship with God it means you fix your relationships with others.
But if they will not forgive you, after a biblical attempt was made, then he commands, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:44-46 (NKJV)
As you see Jesus never said any of this would be easy, BUT IT IS IMPORTANT! We are “sons of the Father” of Heaven and we always do MORE than the people around us. This is why we are on the narrow road that few find or follow.