Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col 3: 13
We had served together in ministry as doctors on mission for two decades and more. Then someone stepped out of line and feelings were hurt. Communication by e-mail garbled the issue and made matters worse. Soon Christian doctors were accusing Christian doctors and using spiritual language to hurt one another. The ministry and mission hung over the precipice. The key to holding the ministry together now had little to do with the original problem. The key now was forgiveness. Some refused to forgive without repentance and some refused to repent.
It’s tough when someone out there in the world hurts you. It’s even tougher when someone in the Kingdom of God causes the pain. The scenario above is repeated over and over again among Christians trying to do God’s will, usually when one or more is out of synch with God’s Spirit.
There are biblical ways to resolve such conflict with prayer and personal discussion in the presence of other Christians who seek God’s will in an objective way. Methodology can be developed to work around most disagreement and to negotiate differences in understanding. But, eventually, all such conflict requires forgiveness. It’s the same in Christian marriages and for Christians who partner in business ventures.
Forgiveness is always costly. One cannot forgive without letting go---and letting go of pain you have held close is costly. Forgiveness seems to work best when both parties see the light and understand their individual mistakes and repent and ask for that forgiveness.
Sometimes that happens and sometimes that doesn’t. Sometimes there is no understanding and no repentance. Then the choice is to end the relationship---a marriage, a ministry, a mission---or to forgive without repentance. Sometimes the relationship should end but sometimes we know that God is telling us to forgive “seventy times seven” and forgive without repentance, “for they know not what they do”. Sometimes forgiveness is foolish, like the Cross.
Help me to forgive the hurt I feel. Let Your love fill its place. Amen