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Restoring Broken Relationships

The first biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to talk to God before talking to the person.

Discuss the problem with God. If you’ll pray about the conflict first instead of gossiping to a friend, you’ll often discover that either God changes your heart or he changes the other person without your help.

All your relationships would go more smoothly if you would just pray more about them. As David did with his psalms, use prayer to ventilate vertically. Tell God your frustrations. Cry out to him. He’s never surprised or upset by your anger, hurt, insecurity, or any other emotions. So tell him exactly how you feel.

Most conflict is rooted in unmet needs, and some of these needs can only be met by God. When you expect anyone — a friend, spouse, pastor, or family member — to meet a need that only God can fulfill, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and bitterness. There are many needs that only God can meet.

The apostle James noted that many of our conflicts are caused by prayerlessness: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? . . . You desire but you do not have . . . You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:1-2 NIV). Instead of looking to God, we look to others to make us happy and then get angry when they fail us. God says, “Why don’t you come to me first?”

The second biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to take the initiative. 

Whether you are the offender or the offended, God expects you to make the first move. Don’t wait for the other party. Go to that person first. Restoring broken fellowship is so important, Jesus commanded that it even take priority over group worship. He said, “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God” (Matthew 5:23-24 The Message).
When fellowship is strained or broken, plan a “peace conference” immediately. Don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or promise, “I’ll get around to it someday.” Schedule a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Delay only deepens resentment and makes matters worse.

In conflict, time heals nothing. It only causes hurts to fester. Acting quickly also reduces the spiritual damage to you. The Bible says sin, including unresolved conflict, blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered, besides making us miserable. Job’s friends reminded him, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do” (Job 5:2 GNT) and “You are only hurting yourself with your anger” (Job 18:4 GNT). The success of a peace conference often depends on choosing the right time and place to meet. Don’t meet when you are tired, rushed, or could be interrupted. The best time is when you both are at your best.

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