For two years, I’ve been embroiled in a terrible fight with a good friend.
It’s a long story, but the crux of it was that greatly hurtful words were ultimately said after months of friction over a misstep of mine. That caused immense resentment to fester within both parties.
Given that I’m a “words” person, I remember feeling violated in the aftermath of that meeting where my friend cut me up deeply for my mistakes.
I know my flaws are real, and that they are great. I know I have blindspots, so I’m always open to truth spoken in love. But that wasn’t what I got that day from my friend.
Deeply wounded, we’ve been fighting on and off ever since. As I don’t have any issues with anyone else in my life except this one person, I was utterly baffled why he had such an axe to grind with me.
I felt wronged.
WHY CAN’T YOU BE WRONGED?
I was still mired in pain many months later, when I related this hurt with my pastor who had a similar experience in a friendship. He shared one thing that stuck with me.
In the midst of my pastor’s need for vindication and justice, he heard God ask him one thing: “Why can’t you be wronged?”
My pastor spoke on quietly: “God is the most wronged. And what did God ever do? All He did was save us regardless of how we treated Him.”
As I reflected on why I was so angry, I realised that my behaviour was not pleasing to God. My hatred had defiled me.
I was more interested in justice than mercy. I wanted vengeance, not forgiveness.
And in my quest for vindication I grew self-righteous and proud. I was so consumed with the need to be above reproach that I had become the judge.
I was more interested in justice than mercy. In truth, I wanted vengeance – not forgiveness.
When my pastor reminded me of what God did for me – even when I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8) – I saw God’s undeserved grace for me.
I saw how hardhearted I had been to my old friend. Like Jesus, now I wanted to turn the other cheek. I wanted to give grace to my fellow pilgrim.
TURNING AWAY TOGETHER
I see that in His perfect timing, God has been faithfully leading us towards reconciliation. With a heart set on peace, I asked my pastor, “How? How do we reconcile?”
He shared that when two people come together to reconcile, both must do an about-face on the issue. That’s walking away from the issue – not necessarily each other.
But both must turn.
If only one turns, the other continues to face him on that same issue – then it is unresolved.
I ventured to ask, “But you know how bad things are. You know how he hurt me. What if he does it again?”
My pastor replied wisely, “Then apologise for your part, and move on – I wouldn’t say too much in that meeting.”
“If a person comes with fortified walls, ready for a resolute defence or worse – a fierce attack – then there’s no reconciliation to be had. But you can make sure you are right before God.”
FIGHT TO FORGIVE
Isn’t that what matters at the end of the day? Not to be right before men – but God.
The Word tells me that it’s “good and pleasant” when “brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133), so I want please God on this issue. That means I can’t sweep things under the carpet – I must try for peace with all sincerity.
To that end, I invited a separate pastor to come and be our mediator at our peace talks. I suppose it was like a boxing match: We needed a referee to make sure no illegal moves or low-blows were landed from either side as we thrashed things out.
Pray for me. And if you’re facing a similar fight as I am, then I urge you: Look to make peace.
I can’t sweep things under the carpet – I must try for peace with all sincerity.
I am convinced of the need to be reconciled to one’s brother or sister, especially when serving together.
The adversary seeks to use discord and enmity – the thorns (people) in our flesh – to destroy us. But at the same time God is also using these things for our good, refinement and His glory.
God’s or the devil’s. Those are the two true sides we get to pick from.
So lay aside the weight of unforgiveness and choose well.