There was a British writer by the name of Frederick Lonsdale. Lonsdale was a member of this club in London, and one New Year’s Eve, he was attending a club gathering and was asked by a friend to reconcile with a fellow club member. It seems that Lonsdale and this other fellow had quarreled in the past and never restored their friendship. And so Lonsdale’s friend told him, “You really need to try to make things right. It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time as this. Go over now and wish him a happy New Year.”
As the story goes, Lonsdale reluctantly crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. He said, “I wish you a happy New Year, but only one.” Forgiveness can be a difficult thing. And one of the biggest problems between husbands and wives, friends, and members of the body of Christ who struggle in their relationship with one another are those interpersonal problems that remain unresolved.
I’m not talking about those petty little annoyances and offenses that come our way from time to time. Solomon said, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12) Not every little thing that rubs you wrong needs to be brought up and hammered out. Some things we’re able to overlook just because we’ve learned not to get offended at every little thing that goes wrong.
But sometimes there is a problem in a relationship that can’t be ignored. It’s causing a problem and it’s not going to just go away. And in those situations, loose ends need to be tied up and taken care of. Forgiveness needs to be sought. Forgiveness needs to be extended. Either way, it can be a tough thing to do, but it’s crucial if we want to preserve a good relationship.
Jesus said, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone….” (Matthew 18:15).
He also 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)
Seek to be reconciled. If you have done wrong, apologize and make it right. If you have been done wrong, summon up the courage to say (without anger or resentment), “You hurt me. What was that all about?” And be prepared to forgive! We can’t be right with God until we’re right with each other.