Proverbs 11:12 (NIV)
Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
We have spent the last three weeks looking at friendship. We have studied the importance of friendship and what God had in mind when he thought up friendship. This week we conclude How to Make A Friend by exploring how to repair a broken friendship. We find that relational repair always begins with us and that forgiveness is most costly to the one who forgives rather than the one who is forgiven. But we forgive because friendship is important and because we have the ultimate example of forgiveness found in our friendship with Jesus Christ. This week we learn how resisting superiority, releasing liability, and repaying evil with good are all hard but necessary parts of repairing a broken friendship.
Zach mentions early on in this sermon that our hearts are bent toward contempt, meaning that we often find our own happiness in the unhappiness of those who have hurt us. Where is your “contempt” level right now? How much of your own personal happiness are you deriving from the unhappiness of others?
Proverbs 11:12 warns against the dangers of believing that we are better than those who have harmed us. Do you have any relationships in your life right now where you have defined the other person by their latest sin against you? What about that particular sin makes you believe that you are immune to it in your own life? What would it take for you to admit that you very well could fall victim to that exact shortcoming?
Tearing down someone who has hurt you to other people can feel real good in the moment, but Proverbs 17:9 reminds us that the repetition of sin unravels community. Where have you inadvertently unraveled your community by holding a grudge against a friend? How do you ultimately feel when you destroy someone's reputation?
Read Proverbs 25:21-22. We live in a world filled with evil. And our sinful nature has us designed to keep score. How do we reckon the justice-seeking side of our hearts with the command to continually forgive those who have harmed us? Is there currently an “enemy” in your life that you need to offer water to? What does that practically look like for you in that relationship?
Zach does not shy away from the fact that repairing a broken friendship is messy, painful, hard work—usually more so for the forgiver than the forgiven. What scares you about repairing a broken friendship in your life? What are you holding onto by withholding your forgiveness from that person?
In the sermon this week, Zach says that “forgiveness doesn’t remove the offense or ignore it...it simply covers it.” We know that because of the way we were created, forgiving doesn’t necessarily involve forgetting. How do you move on through that tension in a repaired relationship? How do you—recognizing that that you are called to forgive regardless—forgive a friend knowing that you will never fully forget the offense.
Forgiveness is always hardest on the forgiver, and sometimes forgiveness is never even asked for or acknowledged. But we have an example in Jesus who demonstrated the ultimate act of forgiveness on the cross and who also wants to be our forever friend. Search your heart this week. Spend a quiet moment alone with God and ask him to reveal to you anyone against whom you are holding a grudge. What would it take for you to forgive them? Ask God for the courage to begin the process of forgiveness. Zach asks a very simple question towards the end of this week’s sermon, “Do you know how to forgive someone?” Spend some time this week answering that question honestly for yourself. If somewhere in this process, you feel that a past relationship may be hindering you from your relationship with Jesus, consider attending reGROUP—our recovery ministry—as a next step toward healing.