Offer the olive branch.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: ‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull. Restore me, and I will return, for You are the Lord my God. 19 Surely, after my turning, I repented; And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth (Jeremiah 31).’
When trying to patch things up with someone we have had a heated disagreement with, we endeavor to put the past behind us. If we want to move on, we start by forgiving any past offenses. We take the bold step of fessing up to our own mistakes, by seeking forgiveness. When both parties desire to salvage a relationship, they should only look to the past to address issues and aspire to do better. The hardest part of reconciliation is letting go of the past. We should try to change our negative attributes, to those which will foster a good relationship. God offers us a new beginning that relates better to Him.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5).
If God was in Christ reconciling us to Himself, He was the one taking the initiative to restore a broken relationship. He is willing to wipe the slate clean, so that we have an unbroken fellowship. Only love can fight to keep a relationship from falling apart. Even after hurt and sorrow, love is willing to see a future of restoration and peace. We were not innocent of our sins. Christ paid the debt we couldn’t pay. God instead, offered up His Son to take our sins upon Himself. We exchange our sinful nature for Christ’s Life and we become a new creation—forgiven and justified. It doesn’t matter how dreadful our past sins were; in Christ the old is gone and we are made new by His Life in us.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53).
Be reconciled to God and start a new relationship, as one who is in The Son. No one can have a relationship with God, The Father, until they are a child of God. He is an Everlasting Father to The Son, and only in Christ do we become His Children. Now all things in our lives become avenues for God, so that our new life is pleasing to God. Our interactions, routines and desires are channeled to love God and others.
Reconciliation engenders a different approach to nurturing a relationship. The first and difficult step to take is to stop reminding others of their offenses. We should not be dredging up our own past mistakes. We should accept others’ willingness to fess up and apologize. God will not rebuff a humble and contrite longing for change and reconciliation. Others can’t be convinced of God’s Grace when we are unwilling to show them clemency.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His Mercy toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust(Psalm 103).
God has already forgiven us in Christ, but He wants us to repent. If He has already forgiven, then why would He need us to repent? Repentance is an acknowledgement that we have sinned; we have been rebellious, and are willing to make a clean breast of things, because we love Him. We repent because we want to be reconciled by love and grace. It doesn’t just fall on God to draw us to Himself, as if He owes it to us, it is up to us to want the same relationship He wants—an unbroken relationship, established by an everlasting Covenant. Reconciliation can only be achieved when two agree. If a marriage is on the brink of collapse, yet a husband and wife each desire to mend fences, it will not fail. If they both admit culpability, with a dogged-determination to do better, they will undoubtedly support each other.
Christ will give us the support we need as long as we are earnest to remain one with Him. He understands that we are frail and bound to keep failing. He is compassionate and merciful to those who love and fear Him. He is An Authority Greater than the government, boss or parent; yet, while He commands respect and honor, He still abounds in Love. He is Holy and Just to repay us according to our deeds. He is not like people who hold on to a grudge, and continue in bitterness. We often want others to get the full brunt of justice for what they do against us. Not so with God, He is abounding in Mercy and prefers leniency for those who repent.
8 The Lord is Merciful and Gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in Mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103).
You see, mercy and grace give others what they don’t deserve, when they have wronged us. Grace takes away the painful guilt that separates loved ones. Guilt can keep others from reaching out, because they fear the response of the one they have offended. As God remembers our frame—we are weak and imperfect, we should remember to not put too high an expectation of others. They need mercy just as much as we do. Easier said than done, right? God is our avenger; He deals with those who harm us, better than we can. If they want to patch things up, we should put aside any malice or bitterness to revenge, by forgiving them. God doesn’t deal with us according to what we deserve, so we should not take a higher position than His, by withholding mercy.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2).
We were called to follow after the example that Christ set for us: We should not live our lives willfully in sin. Sin puts a rift between us and God. He is not the one who does us wrong, we are the ones who disobey. We should uphold the truth and be willing to suffer to defend it. By submitting ourselves to the overseer of our souls, we should not return evil for evil when others offend us, but we should let God judge them. Finally, we need to be reconciled to God when we sin or wrong others, so that we live righteously before God and our fellow mankind.
Our Lord and God is Merciful; He wants us to return and be made whole in a relationship of love and grace. We must repent and see the error of our ways. If we love Him, we will do whatever is necessary to maintain our union and fellowship with Him. He forgives and forgets the past. He wants to teach us about Himself and His Righteousness, so that we grow in the knowledge of Him and become compatible. Our relationship with God will affect our relationship with others, especially in the area of reconciliation. He has made us one in His Son, Our Lord Jesus, so that we are new in His Likeness. He is our Redeemer, Who calls us to return and be reconciled to Him. Nothing good comes out of guilt; but alienation, sorrow and fear of judgement. He is our hope to an abundant life and one that is lived in peace with Him.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am Merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord. 14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3).