I should be reconciled with a brother, but I’m not sure how to do it.

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I’m feeling convicted that I should be reconciled with a brother in church, but I’m not sure how to do it. Will you advise me?


Your situation sounds like it’s about two Christ-followers who have become distant due to personal offense, conflicts, or misunderstandings as spoken of in Matthew 5:22-26; Ephesians 4:31, 32; and Colossians 3:12-14. It does not sound like what’s addressed in Matthew 18:15-17 or in Galatians 6:1, where a brother is overcome by failure and needs the intervention of other mature believers to humbly confront him about his sin. 

If this is correct, then the right thing to do in your case is already half done. If you weren’t convicted about loving and being loved — forgiving and being forgiven — by your brother, we wouldn’t have much hope for a successful second half. But you are in the church and have written here for counsel, so I’m believing that your conviction is from God via the Holy Spirit. The only thing left now is to “pull the trigger” — that is, yield to the Spirit’s conviction and fully follow His guidance through the written Word in the first three texts above. 

My advice, then, is that you determine in your heart to contact your brother soon, before another week passes. Do it in person or by phone, not by email or postal mail. Don’t open up the whole problem or try to resolve it in this first contact. Simply say to the brother that God is convicting you about the broken or strained relationship between you, and that you are ready to make it right. Wait for his response. Then, without more details, ask your brother to meet you soon at a time and neutral place where the two of you can talk.

From then until you meet, you should humble yourself and pray, pray, pray. Your attitude during the meeting will be the most important factor in deciding its outcome. You must not accuse your brother or remind him of his failures. Rather, listen attentively to him and take full responsibility for your own words, thoughts, actions, and/or omissions that either caused or contributed to the problem. Don’t make excuses for your own behavior. And don’t say, “If I said or did anything that hurt you, I’m sorry.” Rather, admit your sins against your brother, honestly ask him to forgive you, and seek an agreement that each of you freely forgives the other just as Christ forgave both of you. 

If you both forgive each other and agree to put the problem in the past, you have won your brother and delivered your own soul. Thank God and settle it in your mind to always love, accept, and forgive him in the future, regardless of the circumstances. 

If your brother does not forgive you, you should reexamine your own motives and attitudes before concluding that your soul has been delivered. What about your spirit and your words made it difficult or impossible for him to respond as you’d hoped? Back to your knees before you try again. Then you can ask for a second meeting to further discuss issues and work toward total and final resolution. It may be helpful to take a wise third person with you — someone agreeable to you both — to assist in the process of reconciliation. 

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.