Day 8: What to Do When You Mess Up – Part Two
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18
Yesterday you learned that you don’t need to mope around feeling sorry for yourself when you sin—that once you repent, God forgives. But what about the people involved in your mess ups?
Although there are plenty of times when everyone agrees that all is forgiven and it’s time to go on with life, many times wounds are inflicted that cause rifts in relationships that aren’t as easily healed. God forgives immediately. People? Not so much.
If you need to make amends with people who’ve been hurt by your words or actions, then you should seek to do so as soon as possible. Before you head off to the phone or to write that letter, pray about it. Ask the Lord to give you the right words and any other wisdom you might need from Him. He might even direct you to hold off for now.
Know beforehand that the other person may not receive your apology. They may respond in a very cruel way. If that happens, keep your cool. You’re only responsible for your actions—not theirs. Remember, the verse says “as much as depends on you.” Remain calm and do what God has directed you to do. A harsh response from the other person doesn’t mean all is lost. Keep praying for them. God can turn it around.
Does that all make sense? Okay, good. Let’s move on.
Sometimes God will want you to make amends, even if you did absolutely nothing wrong. Maybe someone thinks you’re mad at them because you haven’t called in a while, or you didn’t take them to lunch, but took your other friend. People seem to have a way of assuming all kinds of stuff that isn’t true (cough, cough).
When the Holy Spirit points out to you that something needs to be dealt with, deal with it! While you’re at it, don’t let your flesh say a word. If you let it, what started as a minor misunderstanding could turn into a major blowout.
The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts. Proverbs 17:14
It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel. Proverbs 20:3
I like how the New Living Translation puts that last one:
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. Proverbs 20:3 (NLT)
Is there anyone you can think of who has been hurt by your actions or words? If no one comes to mind, take some time to pray and ask your Father if there’s anyone you need to make amends to. Ask Him to show you how to get it done. Don’t procrastinate in getting it handled. Get it done when God says to! Remember, God’s love shows the world we are His disciples, and reconciling with those you’ve hurt will be the first sign for those people that things are different for you now. Keep on walking it out, and rather than being cold toward you, you might find them wanting to hang around!