Repairing Breaches in Relationships

In a perfect world breaches in a relationship do not happen. In a perfect marriage breaches in the relationship do not happen. In a perfect home breaches in relationships do not happen. In case you have missed it, we do not live in a perfect world, perfect marriages or perfect homes. Breaches in relationships do happen!

Jesus was very aware of this as were the disciples. While teaching, Luke 17:1-10, the Lord Jesus gave an amazing command to the disciples. He told them that if a brother offends you seven times in the same day and is repentant, you forgive him. Peter responds, “Lord, give us more faith!” The response of Jesus is rather bizarre at first hearing. He points out to them that a very small amount of faith is sufficient to tell a mulberry tree to transplant to the ocean and it will do so. Perhaps you have read this passage and scratched you head as I did years ago when I began reading through the New Testament. This response simply does not appear to address the implied question of Peter, “Lord, how do you expect us to be reconciled to someone who is so thick-headed that he offends in the same manner seven times in the same day?”

The next segment of Scripture appears at first glance to stand alone. However, with further reflection it becomes evident that Jesus is answering Peter’s implied question. He continues with a story about a rich man and a slave and he presents them with two questions. The first is this. Does a rich man tell his slave to go and take a shower when he comes in from the field at the end of the day and eat dinner? He answers the question by telling, “No, that is not the case. He tells the slave to shower, make his dinner and bring it to him.” Then Jesus says, “And, when he has done so, he has simply fulfilled his duty.” In other words, when your brother sins seven times in the same day and repents, do your duty and forgive him.

In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave you gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Seems that reconciliation is very important! Unfortunately, other sins in our lives short circuit our following the instructions of Jesus.

Biblical counselors have had marriage cases in which the breach was so severe that it eventuated in divorce. Anger, resentment, sexual infidelity, lying, deceit, and all manner of sin complicated these marriages. However, there have been a number of these cases in which multiple years later there was forgiveness and reconciliation. In some situations there was a restart of the marriage. In other situations there was repentance even after a mate had remarried.

But, the ideal is for couples to keep short accounts. Each should be quick to own his/her sin (and there is always sin at the core of conflict). If you compare Matthew 5 and 19 you get the picture that those who are suffering a breached relationship should collide with each other in the process of seeking the other out. Nonetheless, neither couples nor other family members are very often prone to take the necessary steps towards forgiveness and reconciliation. Sometimes, it takes time. A friend was estranged from his father for more than five years. There was no movement and no expressed desire for movement by either party. And then one day the Lord moved the son to send the father a birthday card. He wrote a note taking responsibility for his own sin and asked the father for forgiveness. To his great surprise he received a letter back in which the father owned his sin and sought forgiveness and expressed a tenderness that has never been characteristic of him. This seeking of and granting of forgiveness began the process of healing the breech.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there a breach in your marriage, family or friend circle that needs to be healed? Take the first step!

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