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“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15

conflictEach of us have gone through those periods of time when relationships fail. Those relationships that are closest are the most painful to lose. Some translations leave out the phrase “against you”. Others include it. In reality, as followers of Jesus it doesn’t really matter if the wrong is committed against you (most painful) or against others. Either way, the offense is destined to hurt a brother or sister in Christ and others!

So what do we do? It’s easy enough to say we need to pray. Sometimes prayer is a scapegoat and can be better paraphrased as “I don’t want to get personally involved” or “I hate conflict” or “It’s really none of my business, it’s God’s job to do the work.”

There is some truth to each of these excuses. But, the reality is, Jesus never shied away from involving himself in the ugly part of ugly people’s lives. Aren’t we called to do the same?

Here are some suggestions for what may help. I’ll say up front that I’m still working on these in my life and it’s not easy. I have a long way to go! Praise Jesus for grace!

Pray: This is the obvious but be specific. Pray for your wisdom. Pray for the welfare of the one who wronged you or who is in danger of hurting themselves or others. Pray FOR them, not ABOUT them. Remember prayer is a two way conversation with the wisest, most loving being in the universe!

Reflect: This mixes in easily with prayer. As you are praying ask God to reveal anything YOU may have done to bring on this situation. Rather than focus on what the person did, try to ascertain why the person may have acted as he did. Most of the time, actions are a symptom, not the disease.

Ask: This is a tricky one and must be used with the utmost care and wisdom. If you have a close friend you can trust to make sure this goes no further, ask them for insight into the situation. Be careful not to turn this into a gossip session!!

Restore: Restoration demands action! To be done well, restoration is done with love. It can’t be hurried. First attempts often fail. Compassion and patience are the two best tools to use. If at all possible, refrain from step four until steps 1-3 are firmly in place!

Rest: The Psalmist states that during the storm we rest in the arms of almighty God. Remember that once we have done all we can to lovingly, gracefully and compassionately strive for resolution, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of healing.

PRAYER: Father God. Right now, I pray for those with whom I am in conflict and those I’m concerned about because they are in danger of destroying themselves or others. Give me wisdom to know what I need to do to begin the healing process. Help me follow you. Amen.


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Imagine what it would be like if you were caught red-handed in a crime. You were arrested and brought to jail, and then before the judge. There was no way out. You were guilty. The judge knows it, everyone knows it. Your crime carries the punishment of life in prison with no hope of parole. In essence your life is over. All the freedom, all the dreams, all the hopes for your future have been dashed by this one desperate and stupid decision.

Now imagine that while you are standing before the judge he stands up, comes around the bench and stands beside you. He states to all in the court room that He, Himself, will take full responsibility for your actions. As a result, you are free to go. The judge not only removes the penalty for your sin, but, with the power vested in his position he removes your criminal record as well. You are free to go with no record of any wrong doing. Awesome!

You leave the court room that day and go directly to the local office supply store and by a lanyard to hang around your neck. You hang a sign from your neck that says, “Guilty. Sentenced to life in prison” in big bold letters. Everyone you come in contact with sees the sign and avoids you. If, by chance they don’t see it, you point it out to them, making sure they are aware of your despicable crime.

Everyday that lanyard reminds you of your failure. Some days the weight of it is almost more than you can bear. It keeps you from pursuing your dreams. It affects the relationships you have now, and keeps you from moving ahead to build new, vibrant relationships.  Eventually, the weight of the lanyard is too much. You lose it all.

One day you are sitting on the curb and you hear a voice behind you. You turn to see the judge who pardoned you. He has a completely shocked look on his face and asks you what you are doing here. You show him the lanyard and explain how its weight has completely destroyed your life.

The judge sits down on the curb beside you. Gently he reaches around and takes the lanyard from your neck. The relief you feel when the weight of the lanyard is gone is unbelievable. “Thank you!” You say to the judge. He puts his arm around your shoulder and looks into your eyes. “You were never meant to bear this burden,” he says as he looks you straight in the eyes, “I took this from you once. Why take it back. You are free. Now, go! Go enjoy the freedom of life!” With that he takes the lanyard and destroys it before your very eyes and you feel freedom like you have never felt before.

That’s what it means to be free of condemnation. When the apostle Paul penned Romans 8:1 he wanted us to know that we are free. We don’t need to be tied to the sins of our past. They are done. They have been removed by the judge. You are free because of Jesus Christ to enjoy life, to pursue your dreams and to grow healthy strong relationships with those around you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you for taking my sin on the cross. Thank you that I no longer have to be burdened by the mistakes of my past. You know I have made many mistakes, hurt people and destroyed the trust of many. Please forgive me for those sins. I praise you that I am no longer condemned. Empower me to live life free of the feelings of condemnation. I hereby give you my lanyard. Amen.

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September 2022
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