Proverbs 17:9 (NCV) Whoever forgives someone’s sin makes a friend, but gossiping about the sin breaks up friendships.
Reading the words of this verse bring an immediate feeling of of hurt and sadness. I thought back to a time where I engaged my mouth before my brain and the words, intended to be funny, came out hurtful. The person receiving the words was instantly offended at what I had said. I thought everything was fine. But little did I know, my eyes were wide open to what had transpired in her heart when someone we both knew told me how much my friend had been offended. I could tell that her offense had grown into anger and bitterness.
Whoa! If I would have only known right then and there…I would have explained myself better and apologized for the unintentional hurtful words. But this friend had held onto the words and allowed them to fester. The more my words lingered, the more of a foothold my friend gave Satan to twist everything I said around.
Has this ever happened to you?
This root issue in this situation is that my friend didn’t like conflict so instead of coming to me and saying something, she felt it necessary to share how I had hurt her with several others. She had fallen into the sin of gossip. By the time word got back to me, I was hurt because the things she said about me were so far from the truth. Playing the victim, she spun the story so many different ways it had taken on a life of its own.
Let me just be honest…I don’t particularly care for conflict either but a conversation had to happen. This was someone I considered to be a close friend…so approaching her should have been easy. But it wasn’t. It was perhaps one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had. I told her exactly what I heard from the other person and then restated what I intended to say. I told her that I sincerely didn’t mean to hurt her feelings…but I knew the damage had been done. I asked several times during this conversation for her to forgive me, but she “just couldn’t.”
The God of the universe can forgive me for the stupid stuff I’ve done over the course of my life, but a friend couldn’t forgive my offense. Needless to say, our friendship is no longer.
Unforgiveness destroys everything…friendships, families, health, etc.
Are you holding on to an offense today? The Bible encourages us to let go, forgive and reconcile. I have included a few scripture references for you at the bottom of this post. I’d like to encourage you to open the lines of communication and talk about the issue with the offender. Don’t allow yourself to fall into gossip. Talk directly to the person who hurt you. If the person is not around to talk to face to face consider writing an email or a letter. These steps will help you get started:
1 – Pray first and seek God’s guidance in the matter.
2 – Read what God has to say about harboring an offense (see scripture references below).
3 – Take the steps necessary to make contact with the person who offended you.
Corinthians 13 is considered to be the love chapter of the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) we are told that love “does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” When we keep records of wrong, we are not being forgiving at all.
Matthew 18:21 – 35 – The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. This parable tells the story of a forgiving master and an unforgiving servant.