Faithful Responses to Conflict

Negotiation of Prenuptial Agreements

Healthy conflict resolution is crucial to a happy marriage.  Negotiation of a prenuptial agreement (also called antenuptial agreement or sometimes just a prenup) provides opportunity for couples not only to decide some substantive issues, but also to discuss how they will resolve conflict when it occurs.  By having candid conversations about things that may cause conflict, as well as establishing ground rules for fighting fair, marriages can be strengthened by the inquiry and discussion that goes into the prenup negotiation process.

A prenuptial agreement will cover specific things.   Many people have the mistaken impression that a prenuptial agreement is just a way for one spouse to limit the rights of another in the event of divorce.  This is a very limited view.  Especially when second or later marriages are concerned, a prenup can protect both parties.  For instance, if a person is about to marry another person who may have exposure to some liability, the parties can agree on measures to protect the innocent spouse from potential liability.  By protecting one party, such an agreement in fact provides a measure of financial safety for both.

On a more personal level, a mediator can assist a young couple in learning to fight fair and in establishing methods for dealing with conflict in advance of need.  Mediator and attorney Ken Cloke asks, for example:

  • If you were to write a ‘Marital Constitution,’ what would you want to include?
  • What would the Preamble say?
  • The Bill of Rights?
  • How would you like to make decisions regarding different issues?
  • What will you want to do or say, and not do or say when you find yourselves in conflict?”

Mediation is an excellent forum for discussion of both substantive issues as well as general conflict resolution issues.  Mediators are trained in processes and techniques for resolving conflict.  These can be applied pro-actively as ground rules for fighting fair.  A foundation of fighting fair then strengthens and contributes to the health of the marriage.  Thus, mediation of a prenuptial agreement doesn’t just help the couple agree on property division.  It inoculates couples against  harmful conflict.

If you are getting married, consider mediation of a prenup.   No one is harmed by having one, and it may do a world of good by stopping trouble before it ever gets a chance to start.  To discuss this more, please call 803-414-0185, email me, or use the contact form.

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While I’m pleased that many people read different meanings into it, the logo of Just Mediation, LLC, was intended to represent two parties and the mediator joined together in three attached rings, and being drawn through the rigid structure in the background.  

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH FAMILY CONFLICT DURING THE HOLIDAYS

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If you are worried about conflict that may occur during family gatherings such as family reunions, weddings, and holiday dinners, this post may provide some helpful tips on how to reduce or avoid conflict, and how to deal with it when it happens

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The Link Between Forgiveness and Peace

It is said that holding a grudge is like eating poison and then expecting the other person to die.  As we all know from experience, it’s very easy to hold grudges.  Yet, we know there are very damaging consequences to our entire being when we fail to forgive.  There are mental consequences, emotional consequences, and physical consequences.  Conversely, perhaps the opposite is also true.  The spiritual journey to forgiveness is steep and rocky and challenging.  Yet, when we reach the summit of the path to forgiveness, the view is spectacular.  This blog post is about the journey. Read More

Conflict Transformation As A Spiritual Practice

Jesus had a remarkable gift for seeing through everything superficial, for peeling back the layers of the dusty, superficial robes of identity we wear,  to peer into a person’s inner soul.   Whether speaking to a Roman Centurian, to a Samaritan adulteress, or to a distinguished Rabbi,  Jesus always seemed to see beyond title or position and to respond to the deeper thoughts and real need of the individual he was relating to.

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Recognizing Stages of Conflict and Knowing When to Call for Help

Conflict is a normal part of life.  It occurs every day.  At its lowest stages, conflict is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow together.  At its highest levels, outside intervention is required.  In between, there are distinct stages that most patterns of conflict follow.  Different conflict intervention strategies are effective for each different stage of conflict.

In this article, learn more about predictable stages of conflict and the types of interventions that are appropriate at the various stages.

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Where Is The Love?

I was the only person in the bicycle shop.  I was at the counter, making a small purchase and chatting with the owner, when a young man pulled into the parking lot, driving a loud motorcycle.  He strode up to the counter and asked if the bike shop had some part he needed for his motorcycle.

The young fellow was tattooed and pierced.  He had on makeup and had spiked hair.  He was wearing all black Goth clothes.  He made his purchase and left.

This was in the early 1980′s in rural South Carolina.  Around these parts, we didn’t see much of that type of dress.  It brought to mind television images I had seen of neo-Nazis and hate groups.  Not saying a word, I just looked at the owner with an expression that said, “I can’t believe what I just saw!”

“Yeah,” he replied, smiling wryly at me.  “But I had long hair when I was a kid.  And because of the way people responded to me when I was a teenager, I swore that I’d never judge anybody by their appearance.”

His comment brought me back around to remembering my own teenage years, when I, too, didn’t always dress or act as my elders would have preferred.

Lesson learned.  What the bicycle shop owner did was to help me see that young man not as an “other,” but as an individual who might be like me, a person who had hopes and fears and motives for his dress.  A person like me, for whom I might have compassion.  That bike shop owner reminded me not to  prejudge, not to put people in separate categories of “otherness”, merely based on superficial appearances.

How often do we judge each other based on superficial things like appearance, associations, or first impressions?

I find I tend to judge many things by their appearance.  Rap music, for example.  I have a preconceived notion, not entirely unjustified, that much of it is about banal and exploitative of women.  I don’t normally listen to rap, but like that young man, some of it should not be judged solely by its appearance.  Check out these lyrics (below) of “Where Is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas :

 

What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love
The love, the love
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong
Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’
in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love?
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?
Sing wit me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

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What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love
The love, the love
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong
Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’
in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love?
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?
Sing wit me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

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Nonviolent Communication Illustrated

(Originally posted on Peaceworks blog, 2/14/10)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m posting this YouTube video which demonstrates how to express negative feelings to our loved ones in ways that open rather than shut down communication.

 

 

Nonviolent communication, or NVC, is a method of communicating which was pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg, who founded the Center For Nonviolent Communication.  (This video was produced by Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (@BayNVC on Twitter).)  If you want to learn more, I highly recommend the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life which can be purchased from Amazon.com.

The concepts of Nonviolent Communication ( NVC)  are easy to grasp, and I encourage everyone to become familiar with them.   The techniques of NVC help us to communicate on a deeper level, getting to the level of feelings and needs rather than principles and positions.  The basic principle is to focus on what is sometimes referred to as “I” statements, and to formulate our requests into an explanation that includes our observations, feelings, needs, and then requests.  Each of these elements takes some simple training to understand.  It’s easy to grasp the theory, but sometimes much harder to overcome old habits to put the new ways into practice!

For me personally, putting the concepts of communication into practice is the larger challenge.  It requires that we abandon old, negative ways of relating and that we adopt new ways of communicating that are more positive.  I re-read this book at least once per year, and I often share it with clients.  It’s an easy book to read, has simple charts that help one put the new principles into practice immediately, and many of my clients report that it helped them greatly.

 

The Four G’s of Christian Conflict Resolution

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.

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More On Faith Based, Christian Mediation

In the first part of this discussion, HERE, I wrote about basic principles of reconciliation and forgiveness.  This is the idea of Restorative Justice, or a justice which restores parties to a right relationship.

There are two other things which set Christian mediation apart from secular mediation.

Keep disputes between Christians out of the secular courts

A second key goal of Christian mediation is to follow the Biblical mandate not to take cases between Christians before the secular courts.  Bible based mediation therefore is usually structured so that parties first mediate, but they also enter into a binding agreement which provides that their dispute will be submitted to an arbitrator if they fail to agree through mediation.  The arbitrator is generally a person, chosen by agreement between the parties, who is respected as an expert in both secular law and in scriptural principles.

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?  . . .  So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church?  I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?  But instead, one believer sues another, right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers (1 Corinthians 6).

Protect the Church from corruption

A third aspect of Bible based conflict resolution is so rarely applied in modern times that is it virtually nonexistent.  Namely, expulsion (or excommunication) from the church.   Less radical than excommunication is a type of order which requires a party to do some action in order to remain in fellowship with the Church.  This type of sanction can require such things as mandatory alcohol or drug counseling, with consequences of failure to comply spelled out ahead of time.

And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone:  if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established.  And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church:  and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican  (Matthew 5:15).

If Biblical reconciliation is something you’d like to discuss, please use these resources to discuss it with the other person with whom you have a dispute.  If you continue to have difficulty reaching agreement, feel free to discuss these principles with your pastor, or call me at 803-414-0185.

Faith Based, Christian Mediation

The process of mediation is not faith based.  Mediation is a good tool for addressing most types of conflict, without regard to faith.  For people who are Christians, however, scriptural principles in the New Testament have much to say not only about the value of settling disputes outside of court, but also about the spiritual ramifications that are inherent in how we respond to wrongs.  Because of these scriptural principles, Bible-based mediation can differ from secular mediation in several respects.

This post is strictly about Christian mediation — mediation among Christians or within church groups (church mediation).

First, a first key goal of Christian mediation is that the parties become genuinely, and authentically, reconciled to one another.  The essence of Christian reconciliation is based on repentance and restoration of a right relationship.  Restoration of right relationship cannot occur until there has been a genuine acknowledgment of wrongfulness of our actions, acceptance of responsibility, and also forgiveness.

Forgiveness can be a challenge.  It goes against the grain, making reconciliation counter-intuitive.  Traditional methods of dispute resolution do not require forgiveness.  The gladiator goes into the courtroom to do battle, and he takes no prisoners.  On the other hand, avoiding a dispute and pretending that everything is “fine” is not healthy, either.  If someone fails to acknowledge brokenness, then they also prevent the possibility of acknowledging error and correcting it.

Christian author Ken Sande has coined terms “breaking peace” and “faking peace” to refer to these two very different, and unscriptural, attitudes toward conflict.  Doing battle, whether through warfare or traditional adversarial litigation, “breaks” the peace.  Ignoring or running from conflict, on the other hand, as we do when we pretend that nothing is wrong, “fakes” the peace.   Christians who sue each in court are breaking the peace.  A church which fails to acknowledge that it has conflict is faking peace. The path which acknowledges conflict yet seeks to forge a genuine resolution that restores right relationships, is to “make” peace.  To “make” peace is more challenging, and requires deep tilling of spiritual ground.  When this effort is successful, the return is profound:  genuine peace and reconciliation.  It’s not just an ideal, it is a potential reality!  So, where does one start?

The way of peacemaking, of reconciliation in a Christian sense, is not just a matter of saying “I’m sorry” and pretending that nothing ever happened.  The middle ground, making peace, involves acknowledging that something went wrong and then extending and accepting forgiveness and grace, for both parties.  Once the dispute is aired and the parties have done what they can to make things right, this opens new possibilities for the miracle of genuine, authentic reconciliation.   (Restoration of right relationships is also the idea behind Restorative Justice — a new application of justice principles which because of its effectiveness is sweeping criminal justice systems across the world.  Restorative Justice is discussed in my secular blog posts HERE and HERE, but it also has strong scriptural support.)

For the party who has been wronged, the act of extending forgiveness comes as the result of God’s grace.   We receive the grace to forgive.  For the party who has done the wrong and who receives forgiveness, acceptance of that forgiveness is also a matter of receiving grace.  In forgiving and in receiving forgiveness, we put into action our words in the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive us our debtors.”

True repentance and forgiveness is not always easy.  The process of giving and receiving forgiveness will involve prayerful self examination, acknowledgment of and acceptance of responsibility for wrongful thoughts or actions, a commitment to genuine change, as well as acceptance of the grace that forgiveness brings.  (The whole idea of forgiveness is worthy of its own article, which can be found HERE.  A key issue in the inner spiritual journey of repentance and forgiveness — both to give and to accept — is to examine one’s sense of righteousness and self righteousness. )   Once we are willing to walk the path of repentance and forgiveness, then comes the step of restoring right relationship.

Galatians 6:1-2 gives a relatively clear admonition concerning the importance of restoring a right relationship with another Christian, a grace we impart to another even when we feel we have been wronged:  “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. . . .  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

What does “restoring gently” mean?  Martin Luther interpreted thusly:

If you see a brother despondent over a sin he has committed, run up to him, reach out your hand to him, comfort him with the Gospel and embrace him like a mother.   When . . .  [a person] has been overtaken by a sin and is sorry . . . [h]e must be dealt with in the spirit of meekness and not in the spirit of severity.  A repentant sinner is not to be given gall and vinegar to drink.

Luther also writes:

The Law of Christ is the Law of love. Christ gave us no other law than this law of mutual love: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.” To love means to bear another’s burdens. Christians must have strong shoulders to bear the burdens of their fellow Christians. . . . [W]e ought to overlook the shortcomings of others in accordance with the words, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”  Those who fail to do so expose their lack of understanding of the law of Christ.  Love, according to Paul, “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13)”

In Matthew 5, Peter asks Jesus to place a measure on just how much is enough.  How much one is really required to forgive?   Peter asks, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Until seven times?”  In answer, Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, until seven times; but, until seventy times seven.”

This willingness to look beyond the fact of being wronged is the beginning in the path toward Christian reconciliation.

If you are serious about Christian reconciliation with your Brother or Sister in Christ, consider adopting the following as guiding principles:

  • Be honest with yourself, and with your neighbor: Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor (Eph. 4:25).

  • Prayerfully think about how justice is intertwined with mercy: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Mic. 6:8).
  • Accept responsibility for your actions, and admit your fault: First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matt. 7:5).
  • Be honest, say what you mean, and mean what you say: Simply let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no” be “no” (Matt. 5:37).
  • Be compassionate: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).
  • Listen carefully to others: He who answers before listening, that is his folly and his shame (Prov. 18:13).
  • Overlook minor offenses: A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).
  • Be constructive, positive: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:29).
  • Be open to forgiveness and reconciliation: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4:32).
  • Be willing to change harmful attitudes and behavior: He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Prov. 28:13).
  • Make restitution for damage you have caused: If a man uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay for the loss (Ex. 21:33-34).

Fundamentally, a person who seeks to do follow principles of Christian reconciliation will seek to follow the Golden rule:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them

do to you,for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”

(Matt. 7:12).  If you are interested in pursuing Christian mediation with a Brother or Sister, please mention this when you speak with me, and I will give you more resources to help you prepare and either resolve the dispute among yourselves or with help.  Additional characteristics that distinguish Christian mediation from secular mediation are discussed HERE (role of prayer in transformative, Biblical reconciliation) and HERE (the “Four G’s” of Biblical reconcilation).

I can be reached at 803-414-0185, and I welcome your questions on this topic.

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