Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates friends.
Learning to forgive others when they offend us is an important key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Part of learning to forgive includes learning to not bring up the mistakes others have made or “not repeating the matter”. But as always Jesus set a great example by what He did (and still does) for us. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. I remember a little over 2 years ago I told the Lord I wanted to have better relationships with people. I asked Him what I could do to accomplish this. Over the next couple of days, God spoke to my heart and He said two specific things to me. 1) He told me to read the Bible 2) He told me to apologize to a particular person with whom I had had a “not so great” relationship with in the past. Well I was really excited about starting to spend more time in God’s Word, but the second thing was a lot more difficult to do. However I wanted to honor God’s request, so I obeyed. The interesting thing about this situation is that I was not even upset with the person anymore and the person wasn’t upset with me because it had been a lot of years since the offense occurred. But there was still always that vague feeling in my heart that the person “owed me” an apology. That’s one thing about God; He knows exactly what is in our hearts. We can’t hide anything from the all-knowing God. But taking this step of obedience was well worth it! It brought me a lot of freedom and the person was very grateful and even offered me an apology in return. I also began to see a lot of positive changes within our relationship, and over the months God has allowed me to meet some really nice people and establish more friendships.
This experience was a great lesson for me in humility and allowed me to see that even though the person had faults…I did too! I was also able to repent for the pride that had been hiding out in my heart. In our human nature we tend to think when there is a conflict, it’s someone else’s fault. But with God’s help we can learn to examine ourselves before we start examining other people. We can’t control others anyway, but when we are in Christ we have the Spirit of self control (Galatians 5:22-23) so we can learn to control ourselves and do what’s right. When God created us, He gave us a desire to be connected to others and learning to forgive will help us keep those connections strong.