Vol. 8, No. 7
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Question: "A friend of mine has said some unkind things about me behind my back. I feel hurt and mistreated... I really do love her and want the situation between us to be better, but shouldn't she come to me first?"
1. Yes, your friend should come and ask for forgiveness. Jesus said, "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-24).
2. However, you also have an obligation to go to your friend. "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15). Do you really love your friend as you say you do? Then you need to go to her.
3. Your relationship with God depends upon your relationship with your friend. Compare Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:13 and Mark 11:25,26. How can you communicate with your heavenly Father when you can't even talk to your friend?
Too many of us hold on to the wrong belief that time and distance and silence can eventually heal all hurts. Maybe we don't want to seem petty or oversensitive. Maybe it's pride. Perhaps it's a fear of facing honest emotions. Whatever the case, time is not on our side when forgiveness is needed. Let's have a closer look at an important scriptural principle from a passage... "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph. 4:26; KJV, emphasis added). This directive is linked to the next verse: "Neither give place to the devil"(v. 27, emphasis added). The fact is, the more time we allow to pass between a wrong and the moment we ask forgiveness, the harder it becomes to go to the one we wronged. With the passing of time, our mind makes up more and more excuses to let the offense slide... Not only that, but the passing of time also allows our heart to grow cold and hard... (Beverly Caruso, "The Tie That Binds," Loving Confrontation. Bethany House Publishers, 1988, 41].
It has been my observation that unresolved hurt usually evolves into bitterness and animosity. Is this what you want? Will waiting on your friend to come to you alleviate your hurt? Will waiting on your friend bring the two of you closer together? Go to her--today.
Jesus took the first step towards reconciliation when man sinned against him. I suggest that you do the same.