For example; a very dear friend has fallen out with me in our church. What should I do, other than pray upon the situation? We had a relationship together, and I called of the wedding as it didn't feel right at that time, but now my Friend no longer wants me to attend our church. I'm at a loss about what to do? Any Scriptures that can help me on this please
Matthew 5:23 - 24
ESV - 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you. 24 Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
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A heart to reconcile and forgive is important for any Christian to cultivate, as it reflects God's heart to reconcile man to Himself through Christ (II Cor 5:17-19, Col 1:19-21, I Tim 2:1-6). Yet humans do not always want to be forgiven; whether out of shame or out of pride; and do not always feel like reconciling - so they often reject the offer. This is true whether the one seeking reconciliation is God (Jer 32:33, II Cor 7:14, II Cor 30:8), or ourselves in the course of daily living with our Christian brethren (Matt 5:23-25). Reconciliation is not always possible, as it takes both parties being willing, but there are many things we can do to encourage it: 1) Analyze the situation. Are they so hurt they will not even talk with you? Give them a little space/time to calm down. Are there issues that need immediately addressed (such as abuse, addictions, etc)? Seek help, such as a pastor, counselor, or mutual friend, to sit down with the two of you and mediate. In general, men do not want to revisit a failed relationship to talk it over, so keep things simple and quick where possible. When and how you approach them will depend on their emotional state, your emotional state, and the specifics of the situation. 2) Seek understanding. Sometimes others do want to reconcile, but the hurt is too deep at that moment to do so. This is especially true after break-ups. A little space can be healthy to allow both people time to sort their feelings out with God, vs. Having a mess of feelings come up every time they see each other. A little time apart also helps clear out the hormonal bonds of a romantic relationship. 3) Forgive. This step is arguably the most important. It is not always easy, especially when another person has not apologized or taken responsibility for wrongs committed. While the memory of hurt may remain, consider it 'debt paid', and no longer seek restoration for past hurts. (Mark 11:25, Matt 6:14-15, Matt 18:21-35) Forgiveness includes telling them you forgive them, not just 'feeling' it. While feelings of peace or relief can follow forgiveness, they are not the same thing. Forgiveness is waiving a debt. If they do not wish to deal with you directly, you can write this in a letter. [Be sure these are actual wrongs committed, such as he cheated on you, lied, broke a promise, etc; vs. Feelings or assumed hurt, such as 'I forgive you for the condescending way you always looked at me']. 4) Repent. If you also committed wrongs, then apologize for them. Take responsibility for wrongs you did commit (gossip, callousness, pushing someone too fast, etc), but do not take on responsibility for things that were not wrong or sins (someone misinterpreting your speech/actions, calling off an engagement, etc). Again, this can be written in a letter if they are too hurt to deal with you directly. Offer restitution or say how you are working towards change, if applicable, and do not assume they will forgive you in return. [For example: 'I am sorry I told your secret to your friend Bill, that gossip was inexcusable. I am reading through 'Taming the Tongue' now, and my mentor is helping me stay accountable. I really want to have integrity and to keep the confidences of the people I care about']. 5) Seek compromise. Perhaps he is asking for something that is unfair, or perhaps you could bring in friends and elders and 'make' him see your way. But will this solve the issue? Sometimes, you have to be the bigger person, and make a compromise that isn't exactly what you would want, in order to save the relationship down the road. If needed, call in a mentor or neutral party to help broker this compromise. [Example compromise: You still attend main service, but one of you moves to a different Bible study so he is not forced to interact with you. One of the crazier compromises I have made to a friend, who was upset I did not wish to be more, was to attend Bible study every other week, alternate events, and meet with him and the Pastor].
When I read the question and comments carefully I arrived at two different issues: 1) You believe that your friend and brother in Christ has something against you that requires a response from you as a fellow Christian. 2) You called off the wedding because it didn’t feel right at the time and that decision resulted in the relationship breakdown. When a couple develops a relationship that reaches a point where wedding plans are being made, family and friends believe that a deep love, solid trust and precious intimacy has developed. Everyone is excited about it because two people have found a “perfect match” that is going to result in a life commitment through marriage. When one partner announces that the planned marriage is being called off, everyone involved will feel some “hurt” and “disappointment”, but the other partner (along with close family and friends) will likely feel “betrayal”, “rejection” and a “deep emotional wound”. When the reason given for the cancellation is that “it didn’t feel right at the time” most people will likely feel insulted and hurt even more that they are not being told the truth. When intimate trust has been shattered, the prospects for reconciliation and restoration of the relationship are slim at best and may take a very long time. The good news is that what may seem impossible for man is definitely possible with God [Matt 19:26]. Here is a model from scripture for reconciliation and restoration of the relationship with your friend: A. Communicate the Truth in Love [Eph 4:15,25] You decided to call off the wedding because “it didn’t feel right at the time”. But what were the reasons behind you feeling this way? These reasons are what motivated your decision. Does your friend know these reasons? If not, he is likely feeling lied to and it’s time to tell him the truth. But do it in love – with great sensitivity, empathy and compassion. What are your intentions for marriage in the future? Does your friend know? B. Confess Your Sins to One Another [James 5:16] If you have not been truthful with your friend then you have sinned. If you have not been sensitive to your friend’s feelings then you have sinned. Tell him “all the facts” about what you did that was wrong. Explain to him why your actions were wrong and what you should have done that was right. Ask him to tell you how he feels. Tell him you are sincerely sorry and ask him to forgive you. Whether your friend is able to forgive you then or at some time in the future is beyond your control – it is between him and God. C. Repent of Your Behavior [Luke 24:47; 2 Tim 2:25,26] Tell your friend that you will amend your behaviour so these sins won’t happen again. Describe to him how you will handle communicating difficult decisions in the future. The proof of repentance is whether you have really changed. With God’s grace you will. [2 Cor 12:9] D. Strive For Complete Restoration [Matt 5:24, Rom 14:19] Does your friend know how much he means to you? Have you ever told your friend and brother in Christ how much you love him? The phrase “love one another” appears many times in the bible and there is nothing wrong with brotherly love expressed among Christian men? Send a letter or tell him in person. Pursue him until he reconciles or refuses to see you again. D. Pray Continually From Beginning to End [1Thes 5:17; James 5:16] Following are some examples of prayer. Ask God to give you empathy and compassion for your friend. Ask God to soften your friend’s heart so he will meet with you. Ask God to reveal “all the truth” surrounding what happened. Ask God to search your heart and reveal all the sins? Ask God to give you the perseverance to change. Ask God to give you a Christ-like love for your friend. Thank God that his grace is always sufficient. God’s will is that “peace” and “brotherly love” should prevail in every Christian relationship. God will bring it to completion as you walk with the Holy Spirit.
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