Like King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-12, we all get mad when we hear about oppression and injustice. Like King David, most of us have been guilty at some point of oppression and injustice. When we find ourselves guilty, it is important to make confession and reconciliation, not to get rid of our guilt and heal our conscience, but to heal the pain of those we have hurt.
In Ken Sande’s book, Resolving Everyday Conflict, he shares the 7 A’s of confession and reconciliation. I would like to take a further look at them here along with God’s Word. In so doing, I believe we can find a genuine and successful approach to healing the pain we have caused others. Please keep in mind that not all the steps need to be followed for lesser offenses. You will need to pray and let God lead you as to exactly what steps to follow.
Keep in mind also that after Adam’s sin, the Garden of Eden was no longer a safe place for him. While God forgave Adam, he was never permitted back into the Garden here on earth. What a thrilling moment that will be, when in the New Earth, Adam is reconciled to his Garden and Eden is restored! Likewise there are some extreme cases of oppression and abuse, where certain relationships will only be safely reconciled and restored in the New Earth. Meanwhile what a precious blessing and responsibility it is to restore and reconcile what can be reconciled here on earth.
The 7 A’s of Confession and Reconciliation.
- Address Everyone Involved.
Sins committed only in the heart need to be confessed to God alone. Public sins need to be confessed to all those who were hurt.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 NLT
2. Avoid Using the words, “if” “but” and “maybe.”
Say “I hurt you.” Not, “If I hurt you.” Say “I was wrong.” Not, “I was wrong but so were you.” Say, “I know I made a mistake.” Not “Maybe I made a mistake.” Don’t shift, minimize or excuse your guilt.
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13 NLT
3. Admit Specifically Where you were wrong.
Don’t be vague.
Forgive me for shedding blood…Psalm 51:14 NLT
4. Acknowledge the Hurt.
You can even ask, “Do I understand how much I’ve hurt you?”
When Saul sinned, the throne was taken from him, because he was only sorry about what his sin had cost him personally. David sinned an even greater sin, but kept the throne, because He was truly sorry about what his sin had cost God.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; Psalm 51:4 NLT
5. Accept the Consequences.
Genuine repentance accepts any due penalties.
Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Luke 19:8 NLT
6. Alter Your Behavior.
You are not really sorry if you keep willfully repeating the same offense. Ask people to hold you accountable. You may even put your plan for change into writing. One of the reasons I am writing about this topic is to reinforce it in my own mind.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Ephesians 4:28 NLT
7. Ask for Forgiveness (and allow time)
If it took you a while to confess, it may take them a while to forgive. Don’t push it or rush it. If you are sincere and genuine in these 7 steps, most people will be quick to forgive.
Often when we try to place the blame on others, they will turn around and place the blame on us. On the other hand, when we accept full responsibility for our actions, others will often accept responsibility for their actions.
I have attempted to simplify and paraphrase the ideas in Ken Sande’s book, to reinforce them for myself and to help others to make reconciliation. When we find ourselves being oppressed or treated unjustly it is easy to just run away or attack back. When mankind rebelled against God, God neither ran away or attacked back. Instead He presented Himself as the peace offering for our offense! Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 deals mainly with God’s attempt at reconciliation. This tells me reconciliation is very important.
It may seem hard to make confession and reconciliation. It may seem easier to run away. It may cost us our pride to make reconciliation, but that is a small price considering it cost God His dear Son. If reconciliation is worth God’s Son, then it is definitely worth anything it would cost us.