I did everything right (at least in this particular situation). I prayed. I fasted. I confessed my faults to God. I picked an appropriate time. I approached the situation with humility and began the conversation by admitting my failures and asking for forgiveness. I was sincere in my approach, but the other person did not respond in any way that I had hoped.
Again, I was faced with a choice—respond in anger or forgive and let it all go. This was all so painful, but I realized that the other individual wasn’t going to budge. I was hurt. I wanted more out of the relationship. But just letting things go really seemed to be the best way to honor God. In retrospect, it was a good move and this particular relationship has improved dramatically since that time.
Even when we do everything we’re supposed to outcomes aren’t always certain. Human wills and perspectives can be so unpredictable!
The situation described above occurred with a non-Christian so I felt further recourse wasn’t warranted. When dealing with another believer, however, it’s often necessary (especially if some type of sinful behavior is involved) to take things to another level—involve a third party as a mediator.
I do not recommend asking a close friend to mediate (although I have seen this approach unsuccessfully attempted). It’s best to involve a mature leader who is able to remain objective throughout the process.
In another situation I tried to bring correction as gently as possible to a person who was clearly and selfishly out of line. Wow! What a reaction! She was indignant and (without my knowledge) proceeded to go from person to person in the room complaining about what I had done—that is until she got to John. John wisely took things to the next level by inviting her to join him in speaking with me. She wanted no part of that and proceeded to quickly leave the building. I did call her afterward, explained my position and made it clear that I was the person she needed to speak with. It sort of worked.
The goal is always restoration, but realistically speaking, some people just want their own way. Others freak out when we even suggest the possibility that they have done anything wrong. Many years ago a pastor once told me, “There will be walls between you and some other people. It’s unavoidable. Just make sure that you aren’t the one responsible for those walls.”
Looking back I realize that this was excellent advice. When we blow it, we take responsibility and ask for forgiveness. When others are at fault, we go the extra mile to help bring resolution. Taking things to the next level honors God even if the results aren’t always what we hope. If we seek to honor Him, He’ll work everything out in due season.