It’s amazing how a book that was written over 2,000 years ago is still relevant today. I was reading in Luke this morning on what Jesus said about confrontation, repentance, and forgiveness in relationships. It convicted me to make sure I’m applying these principles myself.
Jesus says in Luke 17:3-4, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Rebuking (confronting) someone, has always been a massive struggle of mine. When someone offends or hurts me, my “flight” instincts tend to kick in, and I quietly leave the relationship. Confronting in grace and out of love is a tricky thing to figure out. My husband has taught me “if you truly care about someone, you will want to better that person.” He’s obviously the wise one in this relationship :). Calling someone out in anger is never the right solution, but confronting someone in love will grow your character, their character (if they take it the right way), and hopefully your relationship with them as well! Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
It takes a lot of humility to repent and ask forgiveness after being confronted. If you bring something up to a friend that refuses to repent and change, they may not be the best sort of friend for you. Titus 3:10 says, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” It’s ok to walk away from friendships that are more harmful to you than good. You don’t have to be close to everyone. I’ve had family members that I have had to separate myself from because the relationship was extremely toxic and there was no repentance or change. Although you should forgive if someone is repentant, you also have to have boundaries in your life and know when to cut out relationships when they aren’t willing to change.
When a person does have a repentant heart after you have confronted them, it’s so important to forgive and to forgive quickly. Never hold something over someone’s head after they have asked your forgiveness. In marriage especially, holding onto a grudge is very easy to do. Andrew had offended me about something while we were recently in Iceland. I just kept quiet in the car and prayed that God would convict him (because I knew that confronting him while I was angry would end badly). Soon after Andrew asked my forgiveness, and I said forgave him, but I kept being angry. The Lord convicted me so strongly, and a felt his small whisper asking “you prayed I would convict his heart, but then you won’t forgive him?”. Man, I felt awful, so I then had to apologize to Andrew for not immediately forgiving him and for staying angry. Colossians 3:13 tells us we should, “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Lord forgave you.” If the Lord can forgive me and all of my mistakes without making me “pay for it,” then I should do the same for others.
In any deep relationship, you’re going to be hurt, and you’re going to hurt others. That’s the risk you take in being vulnerable, but it is so worth it. In these relationships, it’s important to remember to confront with grace/love/understanding, repent by asking forgiveness and changing our ways, and to forgive others quickly as the Lord forgives us.