1. What comes to your mind when you think if the word “reconcile?” (In accounting it is making sure two sets of figures agree. To make or show to be compatible. In relationships it is restoring friendly relations between two people or groups of people. Cause to coexist in harmony.)
Most of us think of reconcile in terms of people who aren’t getting along with each other—there is more of that in the world than we would like to admit from nations down to individuals.
2. What obstacles get in the way of reconciling a broken relationship? (Pride. Stubbornness. Hatred.)
3. How can reconciling with others help a person’s spiritual growth? (The first broken relationship for each one of us is our relationship with God. When we humble ourselves and turn to God we are well on our way to mending relationships. When we find ourselves in a broken relationship with someone it calls for us to examine our heart and ask God to “peel back” the curtain of our heart and reveal any sin that is there. Then repent and reconcile that relationship.)
God can use those moments to focus our attention on Him and remind us that He alone is God. He alone has the power to transform us, but we have to be willing to let Him work in our lives.
4. What is the relationship between reconciliation and forgiveness? (There must be forgiveness and humility for reconciliation to be genuine.)
5. Can there be reconciliation without humility and forgiveness?
Regardless of how grievous the offense and upset the offended, we can make things right. By resolving his difference with Esau, Jacob depicts both the necessity and method of how we can live in harmony with others today.
1. Unrestrained fear can make God’s children do unhealthy things. How can believers overcome the fears we face? (Placing our faith in God and giving everything over to Him in faith.)
Put Aside Your Pride! Read Genesis 33:1-4
After a momentary lapse of trust, Jacob rebounded, acting as a man who had just met with God. He faced Esau alone, demonstrating His trust in God.
2. How did Jacob demonstrate humility towards Esau? (Jacob first had to humble himself before the Lord by being willing to go home when the Lord told him to go. Jacob bowed before Esau to establish his intent to seek forgiveness. Jacob had to admit that what he did was wrong and humble himself before his brother in hopes that his brother would offer forgiveness rather than destroy him and his family.)
When we humble ourselves before the Lord and seek God’s forgiveness, then we are able to humble ourselves before those we have wronged and seek their forgiveness as well. True transformation is evident when we approach others with humility.
3. Knowing pride hurts and humility helps in building good relationships, what steps of preparation should a person take before seeking reconciliation?
4. How is Esau’s reaction in the story surprising? (Not only did Esau offer forgiveness, but he also ran to meet Jacob, signifying he was glad to see Jacob. Jesus shared a similar story of a father’s forgiving reaction to his son’s reckless behavior in Luke 15:20.)
Notice that in both Esau’s reaction and the father’s reaction, there is no mention of the wrong that had been done by Jacob or the son. God had not only been working on Jacob but evidently He had been working on Esau’s heart also. We aren’t told how God worked on Esau but it is obvious that he had been transformed too.
Believers can choose to forgive whether an offender seeks forgiveness or not. They can also ask for forgiveness whether or not the offended person accepts their apology. However, both parties have to be willing to participate for genuine reconciliation to occur.
Be Genuine! Read Genesis 33:5-11
1. What evidence do you see here that both Jacob and Esau demonstrated a genuine desire to be reconciled?
2. What attitude do you think Esau used when asking about those traveling with Jacob? (Like a relative you haven’t seen in a long time would ask, “Well who are these little ones with you?” All the while knowing they had to be your wives and children.)
3. Why did Jacob insist on giving Esau the gift of livestock? (God had blessed Jacob abundantly, and Jacob wanted to share those blessings, especially in the wake of having stolen his brother’s birthright.)
When we choose to share what God has given us, we can bless others because God has blessed us. Jacob demonstrated contentment with what God had given him. Rather than showing greed for more as he had done earlier in his life. Jacob exhibited satisfaction with what God had provided for him.
Jacob had matured quite a bit in twenty years. He showed gratitude toward the Lord and recognition that all his blessings came from God!
4. How can Christians show godly contentment in their lives—in relationships, finances, health struggles, and so forth? (True contentment comes from trusting God to provide for your needs and being generous to share God’s blessings with others.)
5. What are some ways to demonstrate a genuine desire for reconciliation in a broken relationship?
Jacob took the first step with God’s help and Esau reciprocated. To have meaningful relationships, we must seek God’s guidance and then step out in faith as He leads.
Agree On Limits! Read Genesis 33:12-15
1. How would you characterize the exchange here between Jacob and Esau? (Congenial; friendly; humbly spoken by both.)
Notice that Esau offered two gifts to Jacob: one being his company and the second being protection provided by his 400 men.
2. Why did Jacob refuse Esau’s assistance? (Though Jacob sought Esau’s forgiveness, he chose to part ways on good terms rather than work together.)
Upon reconciling difficult relationships, wise safeguards may be necessary to avoid further conflicts. It is wise to place boundaries on relationships, especially when there have been problems.
3. Identify any potential problems you may face. What are some safeguards you can create in order to minimize any conflict?
Sensing their differences, Jacob makes sure he established boundaries so there would be no unnecessary conflicts between them.
4. How important is it for people to agree on boundaries within their relationships?
5. How long did it take for Jacob to be ready to reconcile? (20 years!)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Why is forgiveness so challenging, whether we’re seeking forgiveness or choosing to offer it?
2. How can you offer forgiveness when you’ve been deeply hurt?
Jacob’s successful encounter with Esau was the result of meeting with God at Bethel, Mahanaim and Peniel. Only after being reconciled with God could Jacob be reconciled with Esau.
Reconciled relationships are a blessing from God, with the greatest blessing being a restored relationship with Him.
3. Is there someone you need to seek forgiveness from or to forgive?
Pray and ask God to help you with this! If God has laid this on your heart, your relationship with God will be strained until you resolve this issue with the other person!
Challenge: If possible, get in touch with that person this week, whether by phone, text, or email.
(Give personal testimony!)