In earlier blog posts, I’ve written about general principles of Christian mediation and the type of mediation of complex group situations that could be labeled as “church mediation” — mediation for Christian organizations. This post is for someone who desires to know more.
While there’s no “magic formula” for the process of reconciliation, Kenneth Sande and Peacemaker Ministries have enunciated some helpful methods for remembering the process. One of these is called “The Four G’s of Reconciliation”. True to its name, it enunciates four simple”G’s” we can remember as we address conflict:
(1) Glorify God: Ask, “How can I please and glorify God in this situation?”
- 1 Cor. 10:31 (“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”)
- Prov. 3:4-6 (“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own uderstanding; in all your ways acknowledge him . . . . “)
- John 14:15 (“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”)
- Eph. 5:1 (“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”)
(2) Get the Log out of Your Own Eye (Matthew 7:5). It is important to admit your own wrongs honestly and thoroughly. One’s own wrongs can take two forms. One form is a critical, negative, or overly sensitive attitude that has led to unnecessary conflict. Another form is actual sinful words and actions.
When confessing wrong, the “Seven A’s of Confession” can be helpful:
- Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
- Avoid the words if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
- Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
- Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
- Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
- Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
- Ask for forgiveness
(See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.)
(3) Gently Restore: the theme is restoration, not condemnation. Galations 6:1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
- metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found (Matt. 18:12–14)
- Jesus repeats this theme just after telling us to “go and show him his fault” by adding, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
- And then he hits the restoration theme a third time in verses 21–35, where he uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to remind us to be as merciful and forgiving to others as God is to us (Matt. 18:21–35).
- It is appropriate to overlook minor offenses
As a general rule, an offense should be overlooked if you can answer “no” to all of the following questions:
- Is the offense seriously dishonoring God?
- Has it permanently damaged a relationship?
- Is it seriously hurting other people? And
- Is it seriously hurting the offender himself?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, an offense is too serious to overlook, in which case God commands you to go and talk with the offender privately and lovingly about the situation. As you do so, remember to:
- Pray for humility and wisdom
- Plan your words carefully (think of how you would want to be confronted)
- Anticipate likely reactions and plan appropriate responses (rehearsals can be very helpful)
- Choose the right time and place (talk in person whenever possible)
- Assume the best about the other person until you have facts to prove otherwise (Prov. 11:27)
- Listen carefully (Prov. 18:13)
- Speak only to build others up (Eph. 4:29)
- Ask for feedback from the other person
- Recognize your limits (only God can change people; see Rom. 12:18; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)
(4) Go and Be Reconciled
Just think, however, how you would feel if God said to you, “I forgive you; I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again”?
Praise God that he never says this! Instead, he forgives you totally and opens the way for genuine reconciliation. He calls you to forgive others in exactly the same way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:12-14; see also 1 Cor. 13:5; Psalm 103:12; Isa. 43:25). One way to imitate God’s forgiveness is to make the Four Promises of Forgiveness when you forgive someone:
- “I will not dwell on this incident.”
- “I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”
- “I will not talk to others about this incident.”
- “I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
If you want to learn more, please let me know and I’ll help you with resources. My phone number is 803-414-0185.