“They should have to apologize, not me! “At some point in life we’ve all said this phrase. Whatever the reason, we understand that a conflict has occurred. And now, we have a choice. Do we freely forgive and forge ahead with love and acceptance…or do I fiercely fire darts of defense and fall back behind a wall of withdrawal, self-righteousness, and pride?

No matter who you are, you will cross paths with difficult people. Sometimes they have no intentions of hurting you, while other times…well they are just plain old disrespectful. So when intentions are meant for good, but signals are crossed remember, the best way in resolving conflict is not to take up an offense in the first place, especially when one was not intended.

But what about when there has been an obvious offense? Let’s look to Scripture for the answer. Whether we have been offended (Mark 11:25) or whether we have offended (Matt. 5:23-24), our admonition is to forgive and to love. The Matthew passage says we are to leave our gift at the altar—go make it right before we even come to worship. But how do these formal, flowery principles flesh out in the daily working out of our faith? We must forgive—and true forgiveness is a releasing.

“And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him (canceling) the debt” (Matt.18:27 Amp).

The Greek word in the Matthew 18 passage for release is apoluo which means to free fully, release, let depart, loose, set at liberty. Forgive and forget? That is the tough part.

It is not humanly possible for the memory of the offense to be forever erased from our minds. We are not commanded to develop so type of spiritual amnesia. We are commanded to hold the offense against the person no longer. It is a releasing of the person who has hurt us to the Father — trusting the Father to deal with the situation. We are not to keep the offender in our personal prison of anger, stress and hurt.

Because the Father has forgiven each of us personally, it then becomes my responsibility to extend that forgiveness to others. Scripture says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

“So what about the pain? You just can’t erase the pain I’ve felt through forgiveness.” For the pain you have felt acknowledge it! David cried out to the Lord in the Psalms. Job aired his complaints. Jeremiah recorded his hurt as if it was a journal. So express your hurt in prayer in writing or to a friend. But then release it to the Father and let it go. If we do not make an attempt to resolve conflict, seeds of bitterness will begin to form deep in our souls.

The hardest offenses to forgive are situations that are just plain wrong. Perhaps an injustice has been done to us, our name has been been slandered or we have been falsely accused. No matter the act, still, we are to forgive.

The way we response to conflict is critical. The correct response is not to fire back with our own slanderous talk and actions. Nor does it necessarily mean that we rebuild and reunite with our slanderer as best friends. What it does mean is that we must forgive. And once we have forgiven, then we forge on with our lives in love! Col. 3:12-13 says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”

Today release one thing that you’ve been holding on to back to God for healing. Bless Everyone!