“The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.”
“The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.”
“A toss of a coin ends disputes, and settles the issue between strong opponents.:
“A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.”
Driving to court once again in a vicious court battle, I heard the same song I heard every time I was headed to court, protecting my children: “Forgiveness” by Matthew West. My children and I had been wronged, then we were dragged to court, but what God wanted most from me was to let go of any bitterness and to forgive. Right smack dab in the middle of being the recipient of more false accusations and the agony of court, God wanted me to let the hurt, anger and bitterness go. I did. Even more difficult to let go of was wishing the other side would apologize for the drama they put us through. But seeking satisfaction by wanting someone else to say you are right can be self-worship and narcissistic. The dispute really is not what it appears on the surface.
Solomon reports on the folly of quarrels and reveals the hidden motives and attitudes. If we love to quarrel, we love sin? Wow. But sometimes, despite the fact that you have communicated forgiveness, a relative can remain offended. (Side note – isn’t it funny that it is a relative? It can also, of course, be a stranger or a friend). Or sometimes boundaries have to be in place to protect you from further offense. What then? In one breath I wish we could do as verse 18 says and flip a coin. Wouldn’t that be nice? Heads – the matter is resolved in your favor. But would that satisfy our inner desire to be right? Would that stop all harmful behavior? What if the coin toss was not in our favor? The lot is cast and its every decision is from the LORD – could we accept that? Probably not. Even winning in court does not resolve the matter.
We want justification, we want disagreements fairly resolved. But perhaps our sense of justice is not just? If we repeat a matter over and over again seeking justification, perhaps we are trying to not just prove it to ourselves but garner and groom an audience for our glory? Yuck. Being right is not as beautiful as it once seemed. Assuredly, there are times when a disagreement was truly more one person’s fault than the other, but the liberation that comes from laying down an unresolved dispute is sweet. Give it over to the only perfectly wise, all-knowing God. Let go of pursuing vindication in anyone’s eyes but His.
So the end of the matter? Crucify the flesh and give up the right to be right. Lay it down at the Master’s feet and forgive. Do what you can to promote unity, but have boundaries. Sometimes the relationship just isn’t healthy and no amount of coin tossing or extensive conversations could ever resolve the matter. Simply put, everyone is not going to like you. Every disagreement does not end happily. People can choose to remove you from their lives, or you have to remove them from your life if it is a toxic relationship. Get over it and focus on what is really important – living to please God and loving those God has placed in your life. Move on from harboring resentment and focus on the positive things in your life. Instead of turning thoughts and discussions over in your mind, dwell on Scriptures. After some time and distance has transpired since the situation, go afresh to God and see if there was any wrong you committed. Confess it and forgive yourself. We can communicate love and forgiveness, but sometimes the person who has chosen to hate you or hold a grudge against you prefers their assumed victim status, or maybe, just maybe, we were the problem, after all. Ultimately, a clear conscience is far more rewarding than living a fantasy full of bitterness.
Lord, help us to surrender our desire to be proved right. You are the only One Righteous One. May we forgive others as You have so freely forgiven us.