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How can we restore broken relationships with others?

Matthew 5:21-24

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Reconciliation with God relates to our reconciliation with others. As we understand all God has done to restore us to himself, we will understand how much we can do to restore our relationships with others.

Luke 15:18

I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you . . .”

We need to confess our wrongdoings, not only to God but also to others whom we have wronged.

Matthew 18:15

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

Restoration may involve confrontation. Most of us don’t like conflict, and confrontation brings conflict. But conflict resolved is a relationship restored.

Ephesians 4:26, 31-32

And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry . . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Proverbs 19:11

People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.

Genesis 50:18-21

Then his brothers came and bowed low before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph told them, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families.” And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.

Anger damages relationships, perhaps more than any emotion. Forgiveness dissolves anger, perhaps more than any other action. When we forgive others, we no longer see them as our enemy. When we are forgiven, we are drawn to the one who forgave us.

Colossians 3:13

God’s model of forgiveness is the key to restoring relationships.

Numbers 5:7

They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.

1 Samuel 12:3

Now tell me as I stand before the Lord and before his anointed one—whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong.

Restoration often involves restitution, giving back to someone what we have taken from them and more. Whether we have wrongfully taken their money, their dignity, or their reputation, it often takes more than saying “I’m sorry” to restore the relationship. Restitution brings our hands in harmony with our words. Restitution acknowledges that a wrong has been committed, shows concern for the one wronged, and demonstrates a sincere desire to take responsibility for one’s actions.

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