Peacemaker Ministries

 

Forget or Forego?

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

 

Forgiveness isn't a matter of whether we forget, but of how we remember.

 

Just forgive and forget - sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, though, this is hard if not impossible to do. In the same way that moments of crisis leave an indelible impression in your life, a seriously injured relationship isn’t something you are likely to forget.

While forgiveness suggests a pro-active decision to pardon an offense, forgetting implies passivity and a lack of thought or intent. Forgiveness should not be contingent upon your ability to forget. Instead, it should be tied to your deliberate choice to forego. Forego rehearsing the offense over and over again in your own mind or with others. Forego allowing the process of reconciliation to evolve into perpetual rounds of retribution. And, when appropriate, forego allowing the offense to be a barrier to a renewed relationship.

 

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p.89.

Food For Thought...

The phrasing you choose to describe the progression of forgiveness is not nearly as important as being intentional about leaving the past in the past and moving forward in a spirit of grace and compassion. It won’t be easy, but it is possible with the help of the One who has so graciously forgiven you.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

When Winning Matters

"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

 

People use attack responses when they are more interested in winning a conflict than in preserving a relationship.

 

Some people just have to have the last word. Period. They not only want to stand their ground – they want to be the last one standing. They want to be right, and even more importantly, they want to win.

In marriage, often times, the one who wins the argument loses more than what is gained. In some cases, the respect, affection, and trust in the relationship may be temporarily or permanently impacted – which is a pretty high price to pay for scoring big points in a fight.

 

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p.39.

Food For Thought...

The next time you get caught in a conflict with your spouse, pause a moment to reflect on what is more important. Is it winning the argument or the heart of your spouse? Putting your marriage first is the best choice, and can be achieved by demonstrating the same grace and forgiveness that Christ has extended to you.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Love Never Fails

"Love never fails..." I Corinthians 13:8a

[When it comes to conflict]… Deliberate, focused love is the ultimate weapon. Instead of reacting spitefully to those who mistreat you, you can discern their deepest needs and do everything you can to meet those needs.

 

Have you ever bought a spill-proof container that started leaking like a sieve? Or, maybe you decided to try that “fool-proof” diet which turned out to be quite effective in moving the numbers on the scale… in the wrong direction! The products we buy and the plans we try don’t work perfectly every time. It’s disappointing, but not totally unexpected. It’s just life!

Even though we know that total perfection is unobtainable, there are some who have come to expect it in marriage. And while I Corinthians 13 reminds us that "love never fails," we tend to overlook one very important fact: sometimes people do. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us to have the kind of love that reveals patience, kindness, selflessness and forgiveness.

 

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p.106

Food For Thought...

When you or your spouse most need an extension of grace and forgiveness, that tends to be the exact moment when it is least deserved. If both of you were perfect, there would be no need for the kind of love that keeps no record of wrong (I Cor. 13:5c). Extending grace to your spouse, even when it is hard, is a demonstration of love that never fails. It's not always the easy choice, but it is the right one!


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Igniting the Spark

"Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." Romans 12:10 People are different and want different things. That’s often the SPARK of conflict… The issue isn’t that we’re different; it’s what we do with our disagreements.

 

The spark of passionate love is essential to a thriving marriage. But, there is another spark that can enter into the relationship that can be quite damaging – an ongoing obsession with pacifying the selfish desires of the heart. Once ignited, this often results in inflammatory words, inconsiderate actions, and a host of other hurtful actions.

No marriage is free from conflict. Even when both a husband and wife make conscientious efforts to live at peace with one another, the dangerous “sparks” of selfishness flare up from time to time. Quickly snuffing them out and restoring the relationship is important to fanning the flame of love in marriage and living in a harmonious home.

 

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p.18

Food For Thought...

Which kind of “sparks” do you experience most often in your marriage? What are you doing to restore relationship after selfish “sparks” ignite?


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Six of Satan's Favorite Conflict Phrases

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7

 

Satan promotes conflict in many ways. Among other things, he tempts us so we give in to greed and dishonesty (Acts 5:3), he deceives us and misleads us (2 Tim. 2:25-26), and he takes advantage of unresolved anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Worst of all, he uses false teachers to propagate values and philosophies that encourage selfishness and stimulate controversy (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Here are some of the expressions that often reflect the devil's lies and influence:

"Look out for Number One." "God helps those who help themselves." "Surely God doesn't expect me to stay in an unhappy situation." "I'll forgive you, but I won't forget." "Don't get mad, get even." "I deserve better than this."

Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts. As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 50-51.

Food For Thought...

Read Jesus' responses to Satan's temptations in Matthew 4:1-11. Note that in contrast to Satan's favorite expressions noted above, none of Jesus' responses contain the word, "I." What's more, none of Jesus' responses to Satan even contain the word, "you"--usually our second favorite word in conflict! How do we prevent Satan from getting a foothold in our conflicts? We keep our conflict responses (and our words) God-centered, remembering that if God is not at the center of our thoughts during a conflict, Satan will be altogether too happy to quietly take God's place.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

An Opportunity To Serve

Conflict presents unique opportunities to serve other people. When others are weighed down with problems and stress, God will sometimes use us to encourage them and help carry their burdens. In other situations, we may be able to give helpful advice, provide a positive example, or suggest creative solutions to problems. Best of all, conflict can provide the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ and give witness to the gospel, even to people who are attacking us.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 143.

Food For Thought...

It seems when we've got many problems and much stress, conflict comes at us faster than ever. Our emotions are intensified and things we may have overlooked now become full blown conflicts. No matter which way we turn, it stares us in the face. While this doesn't provide an excuse to treat others poorly or unfairly, it does provide much opportunity for peacemaking.

The same is true for those around us. There could be circumstances in their lives causing them to respond differently than they normally would. Their burden may be too big for them to carry alone. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. God put you in their path to speak a kind word, offer forgiveness, give advice, or be a listening ear. To put it simply, to serve them. And when we're serving others, our view of a conflict will often change.

Be on the lookout today for special God-given opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ even in the midst of conflict. When you actively model the gospel in action, you are making the most of every opportunity to serve other people.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

What Revenge Can Teach Us About Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is a passive process in which a matter fades from memory merely with the passing of time. Forgiving is an active process; it involves a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. To put it another way, when God says that he "remembers your sins no more" (Isa. 43:25), he is not saying that he cannot remember our sins. Rather, he is promising that he will not remember them. When he forgives us, he chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again. Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God's grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. This may require a lot of effort, especially when an offense is still fresh in mind. Fortunately, when we decide to forgive someone and stop dwelling on an offense, painful memories usually begin to fade.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 206.

Food For Thought...

"Revenge," says the famous Sicilian proverb, "is a dish best served cold." In other words, "effective" revenge requires careful planning as well as emotional distance from the experience that prompted the desire for revenge in the first place.

Interestingly, there's also a sense in which biblical forgiveness is best as a "chilled dish." It shouldn't be emotionally chilled, of course, but it should be carefully planned and originate in a place deeper than our emotions. As Christians, we don't wait to forgive so that we can let the memory of the offense fade or so the other person will suffer. Instead, we forgive deliberately. We carefully plan for the restoration of the relationship that has been wronged, and we submit our emotional hurt to Christ, who compels us to forgive as he has forgiven us. As you "plot" your own forgiveness of others, remember that God's plan for forgiveness was a profoundly deliberate effort that impacted literally every generation over literally centuries of time. If "cold revenge" is deeply satisfying, how infinitely much more so is deliberate, planned biblical forgiveness.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Key to Making Restitution Redemptive

Some people argue that restitution is not a valid concept in the New Testament age. I disagree. Nothing in the New Testament explicitly repeals the concept (see Matt. 5:17-20). In fact, restitution is implicitly endorsed by Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. Moreover, restitution is a sign of taking responsibility for one's actions, and nothing in the Bible indicates that God wants believers to be less responsible in this age than they were before the advent of Christ.

Furthermore, restitution is not inconsistent with forgiveness. Believers in Old Testament times were called to forgive others' offenses, yet they were entitled to receive restitution (Num. 5:5-8). Forgiving another person's wrong means you will not dwell on it, use it against that person, talk to others about it, or let it stand between you. But being forgiven does not necessarily release the offender from responsibility to repair the damage. Certainly, an injured party may exercise mercy, and in some cases it is good to waive the right to restitution (Matt. 18:22-27). But in many cases, making restitution is beneficial even for the offender. Doing so demonstrates remorse, sincerity, and a new attitude, which can help speed reconciliation (Luke 19:8-9). At the same time, it serves to ingrain lessons that will help the offender avoid similar wrongdoing in the future (see Ps. 119:67,71; Prov. 19:19)

Therefore, if you have damaged another person's property or physically harmed someone, God expects you to do all you can to make that person whole. If he or she decides to release you from your responsibility, you should be deeply grateful for such mercy. On the other hand, if you have been harmed or your property has been damaged, you should prayerfully consider how badly you need to be made whole and whether making restitution would benefit or unduly burden the offender. As you pray about it, keep in mind that blending mercy with justice is a powerful way to restore peace and glorify God. Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 277-278.

Food For Thought...

The word restitution comes from the Latin "re" (again) and "statuere" (to set up). It literally means "to restore or rebuild". Often when we think of restitution--either making it to another or receiving it for ourselves--we forget that one purpose of restitution is to restore or rebuild the relationship itself.

So if you're involved in determining restitution in a particular situation, don't neglect the restoration and rebuilding of the relationship that has been damaged. If you've been wronged by another and are considering what restitution would be appropriate for you to receive in return, prayerfully consider restitution that accounts for rebuilding the relationship in question. Restitution is redemptive when it is coupled with forgiveness. We are called to breathe grace and redemption to everyone involved.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

But peacemaking just won't work in this situation!

Unfortunately, many believers and their churches have not yet developed the commitment and ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered and biblically faithful manner. This is often because they have succumbed to the relentless pressure our secular culture exerts on us to forsake the timeless truths of Scripture and adopt the relativism of our postmodern age. Although many Christians and their churches believe they have held on to God's Word as their standard for life, their responses to conflict, among other things, show that they have in fact surrendered much ground to the world. Instead of resolving differences in a distinctively biblical fashion, they often react to conflict with the same avoidance, manipulation, and control that characterize the world. In effect, both individually and congregationally, they have given in to the world's postmodern standard, which is "What feels good, sounds true, and seems beneficial to me?"

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 15-16.

Food For Thought...

Biblical peacemaking should never be understood as a better way for you to win arguments where you're "right". It shouldn't even be understood as a more likely way to get to the truth. One or both of those things may happen, but neither gets to the heart of why we engage in biblical peacemaking. Biblical peacemaking is at its core a recognition that even in the midst of an argument where we have a lot to lose and where our opponent may be entrenched in sin, the most important thing we can do is to bring glory to God through our conduct. It is an act of faith that out of this peacemaking witness, God can do things far beyond upholding the truth or vindicating us, though he will also do both these things eventually. The "thing far beyond" that peacemaking makes possible is redemption--especially of those trapped in sin.

Next time you find yourself tempted to say, "But peacemaking won't work in this situation or with this person," remember that what God and you are attempting to "work" may be two entirely different things.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Church: A Support System for Peacemaking

When we are unable to resolve a conflict on our own, God commands the local church to step in and bring its wisdom, resources, and authority to bear on the problem (Matt. 18:16-17; Phil. 4:2-3; 1 Cor. 6:1-8). I thank God for the many churches that are fulfilling this important responsibility so faithfully. They are teaching their people to bepeacemakers, training gifted members to serve as conflict coaches and mediators, and reinstating the ministry of loving, redemptive accountability as a means to restore members who have become entangled in destructive sin... this kind of training and assistance from local churches has often proven to be the key to restoring relationships, averting divorce, and resolving seemingly hopeless conflicts.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 14.

Food For Thought...

When you are unable to resolve a conflict on your own, is your first thought to get your church involved? For many of us, the church as a source of help in conflict doesn’t even cross our minds. “The church? This is a private situation. Why should they get involved?” That kind of attitude really underestimates the critical role that churches should play when it comes to helping Christians resolve conflict.

But what about if your church isn’t really equipped to help? It may be more equipped than you think, but even so, what positive role can you play in helping your church get where it needs to be? Think about how you might strengthen your local church, so that it is able to bring its wisdom, resources, and authority to bear on the problem of conflict. Pray that God will use your church, and churches around the world, to be centers ofpeacemaking–so that, as Jesus commanded, all will know that we are his disciples, if we love one another (John 13:35).


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth

"Even a fool is thought wise…and discerning if he holds his tongue." Proverbs 17:28

 

Reckless words, spoken hastily and without thinking, inflame many conflicts. "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Prov. 12:18; cf. Prov. 13:3; 17:28; 21:23; 29:20). Although we may seldom set out deliberately to hurt others with our words, sometimes we do not make much of an effort not to hurt others. We simply say what comes to mind without thinking about the consequences. In the process, we may hurt and offend others, which only aggravates conflict.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 121.

Food For Thought...

What have you said recently without thinking?

The word "reckless" usually conjures up images of someone driving a car with no concern for the people around them. A reckless driver can cause havoc on the highway, putting his or her life, as well as the lives of others, in harm's way. If we spot someone driving recklessly, we usually grab our cell phones and alert the police. But what about someone speaking recklessly?

Simply saying what comes to mind can be looked upon as being authentic and honest. People admire the plain-speak quality and often promote folks who can do it. But it can also be looked upon as not thinking, or reckless. The lives of the one speaking and those hearing then are caught in harm's way. And if you're caught in harm's way, the result is usually some kind of harm. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Please Break This Rule

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: "Well, I know I'm not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I'd say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness." I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another's sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.

Food For Thought...

Jesus tells the perfect "40/60 Rule" story in Luke 18:10-14. In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those "who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else." This is the story:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Next time you're tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a "righteousness ranking" where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Promises For You

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

 

I once heard a joke that described a frequent failure in forgiving. A woman went to her pastor for advice on improving her marriage. When the pastor asked what her greatest complaint was, she replied, "Every time we get into a fight, my husband gets historical." When her pastor said, "You must mean hysterical," she responded, "I mean exactly what I said; he keeps a mental record of everything I've done wrong, and whenever he's mad, I get a history lesson!"

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 207.

Food For Thought...

Take a moment today to remember the Four Promises of Forgiveness:

1. I will not dwell on this incident.
2. I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
4. I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

Then take a moment to remember something else: This is the way God forgives you. It's natural for us to read the Four Promises of Forgiveness as another set of laws to which we're presently failing to live up; however, the gospel reminds us that they should be read first and foremost as God's commitment to us because of the sacrifice of his son. That commitment says that he will never "get historical" in bringing up sins for which we have been forgiven! Is there an area in life where you feel condemned even though you've genuinely repented before God? Take a moment to hear God speaking the Four Promises of Forgiveness to you with regard to that particular issue. As you read them again, try adding your name to the beginning of each promise as a reminder that God speaks them personally to you. Remember Romans 8:1 applies to you, not just other Christians: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." When you accept this and apply it to your own life, prepare to be pleasantly surprised how much easier it will become to apply the Four Promises of Forgiveness to others who have hurt you.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

A Faith That Forgiveness Requires

Above all else, remember that true forgiveness depends on God’s grace. If you try to forgive others on your own, you are in for a long and frustrating battle. But if you ask God to change your heart and you continually rely on his grace, you can forgive even the most painful offenses. God’s grace was powerfully displayed in the life of Corrie ten Boom, who had been imprisoned with her family by the Nazis for giving aid to Jews early in World War II. Her elderly father and beloved sister, Betsie, died as a result of the brutal treatment they received in prison. God sustained Corrie through her time in a concentration camp, and after the war she traveled throughout the world, testifying to God’s love. Here is what she wrote about a remarkable encounter in Germany:

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there–the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, he has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendall about the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus,” I prayed, “forgive me and help me to forgive him.”

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.”

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

So I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on him. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 217-218.

 

Food For Thought...

Why do we agonize over whether we ourselves will be able to forgive those who have sinned against us? Our forgiveness is a pale substitute of what is needed. Instead, what is necessary is just this: that we allow Christ’s forgiveness of us–the forgiveness that flows through us and brings life to us–to flow outward from us to reach the others in our lives who, like us, are equally undeserving of his mercy. For “[i]t does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Rom. 9:16).


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Other Great Commission

If you learn that someone has something against you, God wants you to take the initiative in seeking peace--even if you do not believe you have done anything wrong. If you believe that another person's complaints against you are unfounded or that the misunderstanding is entirely the other person's fault, you may naturally conclude that you have no responsibility to take the initiative in restoring peace. This is a common conclusion, but it is false, for it is contrary to Jesus' specific teaching in Matthew 5:23-24: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 148.

Food For Thought...

Do you recall the "Great Commission?" This was Jesus' command to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 to "Go and make disciples of all nations."

Think about Matthew 5:23-24 as "The Other Great Commission"-- and it may be even more challenging for us to fulfill. Going to reconcile with someone who has a complaint about us involves humility ("Why should I go to them if they're the one who's upset?"), empathy (attempting to see the situation from someone else's perspective), and obedience (we go because Jesus commands us, not because we want to or even because we feel that reconciliation is possible). Are there any people in your life to whom you need to "go" today in order to reconcile? Maybe there is a long-standing feud between you and a family member or former friend that God is inviting you to begin to address today through this reminder.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Even the Small Peaces

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." Matthew 10:29

 

To be sovereign means to be supreme, unlimited, and totally independent of any other influence. God alone has such power (Ps. 86:10; Isa. 46:9-10). The Bible teaches that God's dominion is so great that he has ultimate control over all things. His sovereignty extends over both creation and preservation (Ps. 135:6-7; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 4:11). He rules over all governments (Prov. 21:1; Dan 2:20-21;4:35). He alone controls individual lives and destinies (Jer. 18:6; John 6:39; Rom. 9:15-16; 15:32; Eph. 1:11-12; James 4:15). At the same time, he watches over events as small as a sparrow's fall from a tree (Matt. 10:29).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 60.

Food For Thought...

Big or small, God is over all.

Sovereign. Supreme. Unlimited. Those are words that speak of power and might and greatness. They describe our Father who art in heaven and rightly so. Ken reminds us that we serve a God who is "totally independent of any other influence." It's reassuring to know that our great and mighty God is fully involved in bringing peace to situations and circumstances too big for us -- the BIG peaces. Peace in Jerusalem. Peace in Ukraine. Peace in inner city Detroit.

But it's humbling to remember that our great and mighty God is also totally committed to bringing peace to those places and spaces that aren't so big and grand -- the little peaces. Such as peace between two families in a church of fifty people tucked away in the hills of Carolina. Peace between a husband and wife who squabble over financial matters; not a lot, but just enough to keep distance between them. These situations-in-need-of-peace will never make the evening news or the front page of the Sunday paper. But neither do sparrows falling to the ground. But he sees them. And our Sovereign, Supreme, and Unlimited God sees and cares and desires his peace to reign, regardless of the size.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

But I Don't SEE It!

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." Isaiah 55:8.

 

Although we can be sure that God is always working for our good and the good of others, even through trials and suffering, we will not always know exactly what that good is. In many cases his ultimate purposes will not be evident for a long time. And in some situations his ways and objectives are simply too profound for us to comprehend, at least until we see God face to face (see Rom. 11:33-36).

This should not diminish our confidence in him or our willingness to obey him, however. As Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." This passage provides the key to dealing faithfully with painful and unjust situations. God may not tell us everything we want to know about the painful events of life, but he has already told us all we need to know. Therefore, instead of wasting time and energy trying to figure out things that are beyond our comprehension, we need to turn our attention to the promises and instructions that God has revealed to us through Scripture.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 64-65.

Food For Thought...

Does believing that God works for your good in a conflict depend on your ability to see what that good is? What happens to your belief if you don't see that good for several weeks, months, years… or not at all this side of heaven?

In these situations, we must hold tight to the wealth of promises in Scripture and look closely at those passages that reveal the character of God. In times of greatest uncertainty, we must consciously choose to believe that God is working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans8:28). We may not understand what God is doing, but we can always trust in who God is and trust that he knows what he's accomplishing.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Doing Nothing Equals Something

"Forgive us our debts..." Matthew 6:12

 

In fact, we can sin against God by omission -- by doing nothing. As James 4:17 tells us, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." Therefore, if we are involved in a conflict and neglect opportunities to serve others (by failing to bear their burdens, gently restore them, etc.), we are guilty of sin in God's eyes.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 119.

Food For Thought...

By neglecting to do good, we end up neglecting God.

Have you ever been in a situation and you just knew you were being asked to do something good, say something good, be something good -- but you didn't do it, say it, or be it? No doubt we all have. In the wake of those moments, we often feel like we've neglected someone. But how often do we live with the awareness that we've neglected God in those moments?

When we do something unto the least of our brothers or sisters, we're doing it as unto the Lord. And when we don't do something unto the least of our brothers and sisters, we're not doing it unto the Lord. Omission by another name is neglect. And neglect in God's eyes is sin. Sincerely confess it to God, and ask him to help you to "do good" in that relationship in the future.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

It Takes Two To Tango (And to Grant Forgiveness)

When an offense is too serious to overlook and the offender has not yet repented, you may need to approach forgiveness as a two-stage process. The first stage requires having an attitude of forgiveness, and the second, granting forgiveness. Having an attitude of forgiveness is unconditional and is a commitment you make to God (see Mark 11:25; Luke 6:28; Acts 7:60). By his grace, you seek to maintain a loving and merciful attitude toward someone who has offended you. This requires making and living out the first promise of forgiveness, which means you will not dwell on the hurtful incident or seek vengeance or retribution in thought, word, or action. Instead, you pray for the other person and stand ready at any moment to pursue complete reconciliation as soon as he or she repents. This attitude will protect you from bitterness and resentment, even if the other person takes a long time to repent.

Granting forgiveness is conditional on the repentance of the offender and takes place between you and that person (Luke 17:34). It is a commitment to make the other three promises of forgiveness to the offender. When there has been a serious offense, it would not be appropriate to make these promises until the offender has repented. Until then, you may need to talk with the offender about his sin or seek the involvement of others to resolve the matter (Matt. 18:16-20). You could not do this if you had already made the last three promises. But once the other person repents, you can make these promises, closing the matter forever, the same way God forgives you.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 60.

Food For Thought...

Today's Food for Thought is pretty simple: When it comes to granting forgiveness, don't forget to involve the offender! Many times, forgiveness is described as "letting go" or "getting over it." This is true and absolutely necessary, to the extent that "letting go" is, in essence, a matter of taking your eyes off the offense and the offender and putting them on the cross, where the ultimate act of reconciliation took place. But again, this only gets us to the beginning of the first stage of forgiveness. To be able to make all four promises of forgiveness (i.e., to experience complete reconciliation), however, we must involve the other person.

Now ideally, the granting of forgiveness takes place in the context of a confession by a repentant offender. When the offender can't or won't repent, then it is true that our only choice is to maintain an attitude of forgiveness. But when our offender hasn't had a chance to confess, then we owe it to him (or her) to go to him and give him that chance. As we "gently restore" the offender, and God works in his heart, then we both have opportunity to experience the joy of true and complete reconciliation. Forgiveness is a gift--so let's remember to let the offender know he received it!


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)