How Can I Restore A Wrecked Relationship?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

We should not have grudges against our brothers or sisters, but what do you do when a relationship with a believer has been wrecked?


We should not have grudges against our brothers or sisters, but what do you do when a relationship with a believer has been wrecked? For one thing, we must realize Christ died for us so that we might have fellowship with Him and the Father. Previously, our sins had separated us, a sinful people, from a holy God (Isaiah 59:2; Micah 3:4), but because of Jesus’ righteousness, we are seen as having His very own righteousness before God (2 Cor 5:21). When we have trouble with human relationships, and we surely will, remember that our offenses against God were infinitely more than any we could ever have against others. Our greatest problem is sin; our greatest solution is Jesus. Since God died for us while we were still wicked, enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10), how can we not strive to restore a relationship that is wrecked. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, we must reconcile to our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we can easily come to the throne of grace (Matt 5:23).

Choosing Your Friends

There may be no greater picture of a godly relationship than David and Jonathan had, were it was said that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1). Picture that language. Their souls were knit together like a fabric you wear. They were interwoven in purpose and in heart. If you have trusted in Christ, you are in a right relationship with God. I say that because the Word of God says, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14). We must choose our friends carefully as we are told to “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man” (Prov 22:24). For believer’s, it’s obvious that we “know that friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). To have a close, intimate relationship with someone who is of the world (not saved) is a slippery slope. I’ve been told, we become like the friends we have, and we know that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor 15:33).

Go to Them

“a whisperer separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28)

If we’re really serious about restoring a relationship, then we’re going to humble ourselves and go to our brother and sister. That’s what Jesus recommends (Matt 18:15). You don’t take a posse to someone who’s wronged you or to someone you want to apologize too. You go by yourself first. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s always better to go privately to someone who we may have offended or they come to us. Its best that we not share these offenses with others as it can easily turn into gossip, and we know that is sin (Prov 20:19, 25:9-10). The tongue can quiet things down or it can create a big fire that no one can put out (James 3:6). We’ve got to humble ourselves and make sure we’re not in the wrong, but even if we’re in the right, we must go to that person (spouse, friend, church member or co-worker) and seek reconciliation and restoration of the relationship.

Out of Fellowship

When we isolate ourselves from the Body of Christ, the church, and from other members in the Body of Christ, then we are less likely to hear from the Holy Spirit because we are out of fellowship with the entire Body. If there’s division, even small division in the church, it can create greater divisions if not dealt with. The Holy Spirit works in harmony with the Body of Christ as each member serves in the areas the Holy Spirit has gifted them in (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12), but if some members are in disagreement or arguing with one another, the Body will not function as it is intended to function (Matt 25:35-36; 28:18-20). The Body is less efficient and less complete when members are warring against one another. It’s like an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the body. And we cannot function as well in areas Christ has commanded us in (John 13:34-35). The Holy Spirit works in unison with all the members so the members must be in unity with one another. Anything less is less than the full Body of Christ.

Great Christian Friendship Quotes


It takes humility to go to our brother and sister and apologize and even if we’ve not sinned in this relationship, it is right and proper to seek to restore it. God’s command to us is “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). In the story of the unforgiving servant, Jesus gets to the point and says to us all, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you” (Matt 18:33)? God’s Word says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11). Reconcile to all who have offended you and those who have offended, and “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12). In each and every relationship, in and outside of the church, we ought to be “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13).

Here is some related reading for you: What David and Jonathan’s Relationship Teach Us About the Covenant of Friendship

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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