As believers, what we do with the walls of hostility is critical to our spiritual well-being and those around us. People need to see individuals who are willing to break down those walls and shift the atmosphere around them. How are we going to demonstrate the heart of God to a lost world if we continue to have walls of hostility in our lives!?
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22
Peter must have thought forgiving someone seven times is being very merciful and gracious, but Jesus called him to a higher place. I wonder if Peter was trying to find a limit to how long he had to put up with some of the other disciples. Regardless of the person, Jesus’ response was not what Peter expected. The above passage gives us insight into handling walls of hostility.
First, the above passage comes from Matthew Chapter 18, which is the same chapter where Jesus teaches us how to handle those who sin against us. Following this protocol (Matthew 18:15-17), Jesus told His disciples in (Verse 19) that where two or three are gathered in His name that He was going to be in their midst. Jesus is pleased in seeing His people getting along with one another, and it is important to Him that we handle offenses appropriately.
Second, Peter’s question, in the above passage, was about a brother, not a Gentile or unbelieving person offending him. The truth is that we get offended more easily and frequently with our brother and sister in Christ than those in the world. We expect more of them, and we think they should know better. However, Jesus does not put a limit on forgiving our brothers/sisters in Christ who should know better but still don’t do right.
Third, Peter’s question has the presupposition that we will continue to remain in a relationship with the person. Many people think that they don’t have a wall of hostility in their lives because they claim that they have forgiven the person who offended them. However, they don’t want to have anything to do with the person, and they don’t stay in a relationship with them any longer.
While forgiving someone is the first important step in relationships, it may not be enough. For a person to forgive their brother seventy times seven, they must be in a relationship with them to give them that opportunity. We should not place ourselves in abusive, hurtful, or even dangerous relationships, but not every broken relationship fits those harmful categories.
With the Lord’s help and direction, we can work on rebuilding the broken relationship. We may need to watch the person for a period of time and gradually rebuild trust. However, if we don’t reconcile to some degree, we will surely not give them an opportunity to regain our trust. If we keep a wall of hostility between us, we may claim we have forgiven them, but we also have decided that we are not going to give them another chance to offend us.
Do you have walls of hostility that need to be dealt with? Ask the Lord to show you if they are any steps that need to be taken to reconcile the relationship? God’s people can offer hope to a world that is ridden with offenses, hatred, and division. If we are going to have a maturing and growing relationship with God, we must deal with our walls of hostility and trust God that He will help us in the process.