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With any compulsive or addictive behavior a person's actions are not only destructive to himself but also to his or her relationships with others. Usually because of multiple confrontations over lying, stealing, lack of self-control, broken promises, or just the drug or alcohol use itself your relationships are brought to the breaking point. Ultimately, these conflicts destroy most relationships around the addict. With the added rejection by a spouse or friends this only seems to drive a person further into their addictive behavior and only creates more heartache. These broken relationships must be dealt with if a person wants to go forward in his or her life.

I.  What Steps Should You Personally Take?

A. Don’t hide your sin – confess it. First, reconcile your offenses before God by confessing your sin. The Apostle John assured us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confessing your sin is agreeing with God that you have broken His Law and lived according to your own law. Solomon declared: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Confession is a choice.

B. Don’t cling to your sin – forsake it. The word forsake in the above verse means to abandon or leave behind your sinful addictive behavior. Leaving this behavior behind is the only way to the life God has always intended for you. Forsaking is a choice.

C. Don't excuse your sin by blame-shifting. Blame-shifting is what Adam and Eve did when they were confronted by God over their disobedience. Adam blamed God and his wife: "The woman You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate". Eve blamed the devil: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (Gen. 3:12-13). However, God didn't accept their blame-shifting then, and He surely won't now.

Blame-shifting is very much a part of the sinful nature of man. Solomon said, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Prov. 21:2). Man's natural tendency is to think that all of his actions are right. He then must find someone else to blame. Solomon declared the reality of man's problem in another Proverb. He said, "A man's own sin twists and perverts his life, then a man blames the Lord for it" (Prov. 19:3 Living Bible). Not blame-shifting is a choice.

D. Take responsibility for your own actions and faults. Taking responsibility for your faults reveals your honesty and true repentance. Remember, God desires truth in your inward parts (Psalms 51:6). One day you will have to give account for yourself and your actions. You will stand before God alone on that day and won’t be able to blame your parents, your spouse, or anyone else for your decisions (Rom. 14:12).  Therefore, it is essential to take responsibility now for your faults and receive forgiveness so you can stand justified in God’s sight (Ezek. 18:20) (Jer. 31:30). Taking responsibility is a choice.

E. Then, you must seek reconciliation with those that you have abused, hurt, or offended. Jesus said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). In other words, God is more interested in you getting your relationships right with people than He is in you offering gifts to Him. Seeking reconciliation is essential if you want a right relationship with God.

II. What is God's Method of Reconciliation with Others? 

A. Go to the person or persons you have offended and ask to speak to them alone (Matt. 18:15). Do not try to reconcile with anyone when other people are present.

B. Acknowledge all your sins against this person first. Don't use vague generalities; be specific (James 5:16) (Matt. 7:5). When you speak of exactly what you did wrong it assures the offended party that you are being honest with yourself and it frees them from having to convince you that sinful behavior has occurred.

C. Express your sincere and heart felt sorrow for your actions (2 Cor. 7:9-10). If you are truly broken and repentant in your heart for what has occurred then you will be sorry for what you have done. David realized in his own life that, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18).

D. Ask his or her forgiveness. Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Wait for a response.

E. Be ready to listen to the person you have offended because this individual may have a further list of offenses that you have not acknowledged (James 1:19) (Prov. 18:13). Be ready and willing to ask forgiveness for these offenses.

F. If the person you have offended has also offended you by their actions tell them about these faults at this time (Matt. 18:15). However, usually after you have confessed your sins and faults they will automatically do the same. If they do not then you should bring these issues up at this point.

G. If this person is willing to fully restore the relationship there will be specific action required (2 Cor. 2:7-8). To fully restore a relationship both parties must fully repent and do works befitting true repentance (Acts 26:20). When only one person is willing to resume the relationship the friendship cannot and will not be fully restored. However, there are circumstances when there has been physical or sexual abuse where a close relationship with the offending party may not be advisable. Remember God’s ultimate desire: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

H. If this person you have asked to forgive you is a believer and he or she has refused to forgive you or refused to acknowledge their own sins, follow the directions in Matthew 18:16-17. If this person is a non-Christian you have no other option than to wait and pray for his or her change of heart and surrender to Christ in the future.

I. If you want to find high esteem in the sight of God and man David declared that you must keep God’s commandments, be merciful, and walk in truth (Prov. 3:1-4).