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Sunday, June 07, 2009

CR Principle 6

Principle 6 says I evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9)

“Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” Matthew 5:9

Who are the merciful? When I first began to work Principle 6, I thought of my wife. She’s got the spiritual gift of mercy. I never thought I had it. I had the gift of sarcasm and cynicism. But Jesus said merciful and happy go hand in hand.

What does it take to be merciful? I looked at Jesus. I studied His life and work and words. I saw that Jesus never defended Himself. He never got angry when He was mistreated or slighted. Like God Himself, Jesus already decided to forgive my sin even before I sinned.

I began to realize that I would need to start going into conflicts with the intent to forgive – before I even discerned who was right and who was wrong, or who was sorry. In other words, the merciful lead with forgiveness. In fact, the merciful offer forgiveness to people who don’t ask for it. God offers forgiveness to people who don’t want it.

Naturally, this changed much in my relationships with my family, friends, co-workers and even clients. I had to stop focusing on the offense and start focusing on the love. It has been quite a paradigm shift.

And what about those peace makers? Who are they and how do I become one? As I studied those who made peace in the Bible, and I looked at godly men and women whom I see as peace makers today, I began to see a pattern emerge. Peace makers take risks. They butt in. They tell the truth in love, even when it would be more convenient and socially acceptable to lie or just keep silent.

Peace makers wade into conflicts. They don’t swim around them or avoid them. In fact, I think true peace makers have conflict resolution as a core competency. (I wonder what would happen if our churches had that core competency!)

I began to see that my old, codependent patterns of avoiding conflict at all cost had to change. No longer could I just groan and complain behind the backs of people I had differences with. I would either need to truthfully address those differences – or forgive them.

I began to understand that conflict is a good indication of sin. It could be my sin, it could be your sin, it could be someone else’s sin --- or it could be any combination thereof. At any rate, God began to show me that sin must be identified and either confronted or forgiven. There aren’t any other options. So if you and I have a difference, we either deal with the difference or we throw it out. It is never allowed to just fester and nurture bad feelings and ungodly thinking in either of us.

Today, I have more relationships and more of them are authentic and transparent. More people really know me than ever before. I know more people than I ever really knew before. My relationships aren’t on the surface. Most importantly, my relationships are without lies – even “white lies.”

I understand that being merciful and being a peace maker are pre-meditated decisions that I must make every day, in every situation. And guess what? I find my relationships work better than ever.

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