As believers, we live in a hostile environment. Anyone who has tried to build a successful friendship or happy marriage, only to have it destroyed by negativity and brokenness from outside influences, has discovered this. Broken relationships are the work of the devil whose job is to steal, kill, and destroy any good thing God has blessed us with. Thankfully, the answer to restoring what God originally intended is found in His Word.
Good relationships aren’t built on worldly feelings, but on godly love. God is love itself and is therefore the perfect model for all our friendships and marriage relationships. Love goes much deeper than emotions; it’s a decision we make. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT). This is the ideal we reach for; however, our own insecurities and negative self-image can usher in a spirit of criticism that causes relationship issues with others.
The devil wants to divide us and keep us apart by causing arguments that result in simmering anger and bad feelings. In the Old Testament, the sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau was intense; when Jacob finally stole his brother’s blessing, Esau blew up and angrily threatened to kill him. Jacob fled for his life and stayed away for many years. When he finally returned, his brother forgave him, and they were reconciled. “And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Genesis 33:1-4).
Forgiveness goes a long way in restoring broken relationships. Esau’s extended opportunity to consider how his hate and anger had broken his relationship with Jacob caused him to have a change of heart. He eventually realized how deeply he loved his brother. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).
If we don’t understand how God’s love impacts our treatment of one another, we open ourselves to the enemy’s attack. God’s love for us was so great that He sent us Jesus, who took all our sins—and the punishment for them—onto Himself so that we could be forgiven. Believing that we’ve been forgiven for everything we’ve done wrong enables us to forgive others. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Choosing to forgive others, and refusing to let bitterness and anger get in the way, renders the enemy powerless.
No one is perfect and everyone, even us, makes mistakes. Holding grudges and resenting others only hurts us; life is too short for that. Learning how to forgive allows us to love unconditionally and protects us against the enemy’s emotional attacks. Trusting God in this area restores wholeness in all our relationships.