Sin seldom affects just one person. Instead, sin festers. Even those sins we think we have hidden will be brought to light. And, those sins we believe are only hurting us are actually hurting those who love us. Ultimately, sin separates. Sin separates us from God and others.
Therefore, it is important for us to confess our sin and move towards to reconciliation. However, confession is one of those things that seems to be easier said than done. Confession involves humility and selflessness – two traits that do not come easily to many of us.
However, as you have seen in this blog series, believers are required to practice conflict resolution – no matter how uncomfortable it may be. This is because the act of forgiveness is one of the best ways we can honor Christ and show the world we are His followers. Furthermore, we confess, forgive, and practice conflict resolution because Jesus tells us to.
The Sooner, The Better
It can be tempting to think we do not need to confess because we do not see how our sins are outwardly affecting others. Don’t trick yourself into believing your sins are not causing hurt. First and foremost, your sin hurts God and separates you from Him. Therefore, you must confess your sin and accept the forgiveness of your Savior.
Next, when you sin against someone else, you need to confess to the offended people. The Bible tells believers that sin should be confessed to one another. God put conflict resolution and reconciliation ahead of worship. Imagine that!
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
– Matthew 5:23-24
In this passage, we learn that we should handle conflict directly before we worship. We cannot allow conflict to separate us from one another or God. When our sin has caused others pain, it is important to address conflict so that nothing is standing between God and us.
How Conflict Affects Worship
When we worship, we are showing our devotion to God. But, if we have sin in our hearts, we are separated from Him. It makes it hard to worship in true devotion when we are harboring sin. Additionally, if we have hurt someone and have a relationship in conflict, then it is critical to reconcile with our brother or sister in Christ, or we worship hypocritically.
For example, in Matthew 15, Jesus reminds the Pharisees what Isaiah prophesied:
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.
– Matthew 15:8-9
It is easy to say the words of a prayer or sing a song – even nonbelievers can say a few words. But, what matters is our heart. When we are living in conflict or with unconfessed sin, our heart will be far from God, and our worship will be in vain.
Why You Must Handle Conflict Directly and Quickly
Here is the hard part: We will always have to deal with conflict. No person on earth is without it. However, Paul reminds us that, as believers, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).” Paul acknowledges that it is not always possible to live in peace with everyone; however, when it is up to us, we must make every effort to do so.
For believers, it means handling conflict directly and quickly. It means confessing our sins and acknowledging when we have hurt others. Throughout his letters, Paul reinforces the idea that conflict resolution is necessary.
In your anger do not sin:
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and
do not give the devil a foothold.
– Ephesians 4:26-27
In other words, we must deal with conflict and relational hurts from a Biblical perspective. Time makes space for anger and bitterness to grow. Time gives room for the devil to enter the scene. Satan likes nothing more than to see believers turn from love to hate in their relationships.
Be a Peacemaker
Finally, we are called to be peacemakers. Part of being a peacemaker means acknowledging when we have wronged someone or hurt someone. It also means seeking peace in relationships even when we did not “start it.” When possible, we should strive for reconciliation in all our relationships. There may be times when reconciliation does not happen, but it should not be on account of the believer.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they will be called children of God.
– Matthew 5:9