My Annual New Year’s Resolution

Michael Metzger

A few years ago, a friend shared a Bible verse with me that has become my annual new year’s resolution. But it comes with a caveat.

I don’t usually broadcast my new year’s resolutions. That can sound like I’m tooting my own horn. Or maybe I fear failing to follow through. In any event, I’m sharing one because I feel the need for it more acutely with every passing year of my life. It relates to reconciliation, and it comes from a verse a friend shared with me many years ago: Proverbs 18:17.

“There are two sides to every story. The first one to speak sounds true until you hear the other side and they set the record straight.”

Reconciliation is when two or more folks reconcile their different takes on what happened that caused hurt. It matters to God, as he has given us the ministry of reconciliation. And it increasingly matters to me as I get older. Not because I’m a saint, but because I am chief among sinners. I ache over the few remaining unreconciled relationships in my life.

One is with one of my brothers. He was sort of the black sheep in our family, bitterly estranged from my father. He’s been incommunicado with us for decades. Many years ago, out of the blue, he sent me an email, asking why no one comes to see him. We began an email exchange over the next several months. It didn’t end as I hoped. In my brother’s mind, there was only side to the story regarding what went wrong: his. He was deeply hurt, so much so that he wasn’t open to hearing another side to the story.

I recently tried to reopen lines of communication with another friend from long ago. He felt I had hurt him grievously years ago, and no doubt I had. I had asked for his forgiveness, and he gave it. He then said he felt we were reconciled. But he didn’t want to have anything further to do with me. Our friendship was over.

In one of his more memorable sermons, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said, “We can never say, ‘I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.’ Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.” I didn’t share this with my friend, but I did say I didn’t feel we were fully reconciled. I suggested there might be another side to the story. He disagreed. He felt he knew the entire story of what had happened. The Spirit was telling him we are reconciled, so the matter was closed.

I don’t share this to give you the impression I’m more open-minded than he is. I share it because reconciliation is used in two senses in scripture. The first is reconciliation with God. In this case, there is only side to the story: God’s. We agree with it, period. The second sense of reconciliation is between two or more people. In this case, reconciliation always involves hearing the two sides to every story before passing judgment.

I have another friend from long ago who feels I hurt him more deeply than anyone ever has. I don’t dispute that I had hurt him. I asked his forgiveness. He graciously granted it. Then he mentioned that there was likely sin on his part as well, but he didn’t volunteer what those sins might have been, and he didn’t ask me for my side of the story. He simply said the friendship was over. He didn’t want to reconcile.

I am happy to report that these unreconciled relationship are few and far between. I enjoy many reconciled friendships these days that are rich and rewarding. They all follow a pattern of love. When hurt, love believes the best of the one who hurt you: love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. My fully reconciled friendships recognize that the hurt, no matter how deeply felt, is only one side to the story. There are always two sides to every story. We hear both sides, and in setting the record straight, we are fully reconciled.

Reconciliation is what God desires for his people: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! But this comes with a caveat. Two people have to make the same resolution to be fully reconciled. This doesn’t always happen in a fallen world, so our hearts groan for what is not reconciled. But we don’t give up. As the Apostle Paul wrote, If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.

That’s my annual new year’s resolution. I feel it more acutely as I get older. Why? At the end of our life, we’re to be presented to Christ our Husband as a pure virgin. Purity requires fully reconciling as many broken relationships as we can in this life. That’s why you might consider making this your annual resolution. It takes two to tango… and two Christians—fully persuaded that they only see one side to the story and longing to learn the other side—to be fully reconciled. That’s why I’m grateful for my friend, who’s still a friend to this day, for sharing Proverbs 18:17 with me many years ago.


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  1. In this polarized world, being reconciled is more important than ever. I have a sister in law who is estranged from my wife. She is convinced that there is only one side to the problem between her and my wife. Alas, my wife’s is an invalid and may not live another year. What a shame that they could not be reconciled now before it is too late. So often, we move on from a damaged relationship, thinking, “I don’t need him or her”. Sadly, as you grow older, you need friends all the more and you find yourself alone.

  2. One of the best tools for helping me in reconciliation is “Resolving Everyday Conflict,” by Ken Sande & Kevin Johnson. I’ve been to a couple of “Peace Maker” trainings that use their material. It has helped me so much. But you are right, “Two people have to make the same resolution to be fully reconciled.” Ultimately, for full reconciliation to happen, both must want what Jesus wants.


  3. Alas forgiveness and reconciliation do not always go hand in hand. I think of forgiveness as halfway around the relational clock and a release of the offender for the offended whether they ask for it or not. Reconciliation requires the rebuilding of trust and we all know that is not restored the moment someone is forgiven. Getting the rest of the way around the clock takes time and trust – a fragile enterprise.

    This is a great resolution! Thank you for highlighting this scripture – an important reminder!

  4. I also think it is important to not perceive detente (the easing of hostility or strained relations) as true reconciliation. It might appear on the surface to be a form of reconciliation but in fact it is often merely an exercise in procrastinating the hard work involved in attaining true reconciliation.
    I often wonder how many friendships have ended up being something less than what God intended for us to enjoy because we were willing to settle for a long-term period of detente instead of a meaningfully restored relationship.

  5. I was best friends with a guy until he defrauded a major university and got away with it. Obviously I can’t say more than that. Calling him to mind in love means I can pray for him, but I won’t reconcile with him – I won’t have anything to do with him, lest it be perceived that I commend his behavior, or that I’ve been “paid off by him” to keep my mouth shut. There remain reasons to shut out some individuals. Alas, I’d rather it not be so.

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