Get back to them, not back at them

If I claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, reassembling a broken relationship must begin with me.

Even if it is 100% their fault. Even if they are the ones who walked away. If there is any hope for reconciliation, if I intend to follow the example of Jesus, then I need to realize this process must begin with me.

That is not easy. We want to explain why this is a bad idea, why it is unfair, why it should not be up to us and why it is their fault. We forgive them. We want the relationship to be restored. But we don’t know about moving in their direction. We don’t know about taking the initiative or trying to fix a relationship they broke. We sometimes prefer to just stand back and wait. It is up to them.

But here is the problem. Jesus took the initiative in our relationship with him. We are to do the same in our relationships with others. Waiting on them to do it is often a subtle form of stubbornness. It may be our way of getting back at them. That might mean we are more like them than we care to admit.

That brings us to four important decisions that pave the way toward reconciliation. These decisions don’t guarantee reconciliation will take place, but they help open the door so reconciliation can happen. In some cases, these decisions may need to be made again and again.

The first decision is to get back to rather than get back at the other person. This is what it looks like to be like Jesus. The Apostle Paul was talking about this with a group of believers in the church in Rome. He was writing to them with some very specific relational instructions. Paul makes it clear this is what it looks like to embrace the mind of Christ when it comes to relationships. It is not circumstantial, and he provides no exception.

Paul begins with this blanket statement: “Love must be sincere.” — Romans 12:9a (NIV). There is no pretending. If you are pretending, faking and putting on a smile, you may still have some work to do personally.

The goal is to get to the place where we see the other person(s) the way their heavenly father sees them. They may have taken something from me. They may have hurt or offended me in some way. It may feel almost impossible to love them sincerely. Still, Paul says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” — Romans 12:9 (NIV)

We’ll pick up there next time.

Steve Greene is the lead pastor of The Point in Seymour. Read his blog at or email him at [email protected].