Even though it might seem easiest to give up on a relationship when there’s conflict, as Christians, that’s not an option. We can’t just leave relationships when they get tough, especially relationships between Christians. Forgiveness and restoration is in our DNA.
2 Corinthians 1:12-14 doesn’t say everything there is to say about restoring relationships, but it says enough for right now. As we look at these three verses, we’ll see two goals for restoring relationships:
- a clear conscience
- clear communication
A Clear Conscience for Restoring Relationships
The apostle Paul and Timothy looked back over their dealings with the Corinthians and felt that they were not in the wrong. They had a clear conscience, as they wrote in verse 12:
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.– 2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV)
The “testimony of our conscience” is the God-given sense of morality that gets sharpened and recalibrated over time as a Christian. Paul and Timothy were able to boast in this, and that they dealt with “godly sincerity” and the grace of God instead of gut feelings.
After the emotional dust settles in a relational conflict, we usually look back and think about how we behaved during that time. This Scripture is a pretty good tool for self-examination when it comes to this.
Looking back over your relational conflicts, ask yourself these questions:
- “Did I behave in a straightforward way with integrity?”
- “Did I behave genuinely and sincerely?”
- “Was I gracious? Did I act like I have received grace from Christ Jesus and am supposed to transmit it to others?”
If the answer is no to any of these or if your conscience troubles you about your behavior, then the path is clear. As a Christian, we must confess what we did wrong to God and to the people we sinned against. We need to ask for forgiveness and repent.
When it comes to restoring relationships, self-examination and seeking a clear conscience is the place to start. Then we can seek clear communication.
Clear Communication in Restoring Relationships
After asking, “What have I done wrong?” you can establish clear communication. This is what Paul does:
For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand – just as you did partially understand us …– 2 Corinthians 1:13-14a
Basically, Paul is letting the Corinthians know that what he is saying is exactly what he means. They don’t have to think there is some hidden meaning behind his words.
Nothing generates paranoia like conflict in which one person is trying to read between the lines of what the other person is saying. And sometimes in a conflict, we don’t say what we actually mean. We can be passive aggressive or sarcastic.
The best way to restore a relationship after establishing a clear conscience is to communicate clearly. Just say what you’re saying. Take the time to get clear on what you want to say, and then convey it clearly.
This might look like saying honestly, “I don’t know why I got upset.” Or “I yelled at you about this, but really it was this other thing that was bothering me.” Communicating clearly may also be just sharing everything you’re thinking and feeling.
There Is Hope for Your Broken Relationships
Whatever your fractured relationship might be, there is hope. God has done amazing things when it comes to relational conflict.
… that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.– 2 Corinthians 1:14b
For Paul and the Corinthians, they could look forward to Jesus’s return when they wouldn’t need to be ashamed of their behavior. He could be proud of them, and they could be proud of him.
For you, ask God if there are any broken relationships that you can work toward restoring. Examine yourself and seek a clear conscience. Then communicate honestly and clearly what is going on.
In Christ, we have plenty of grace and forgiveness to share – there is always hope for restoring relationships.
Devotional streamed on Facebook Live – Monday, Mar. 23 @ 3:00 PM