The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Leah Coulter's new book, Rediscovering the Power of Repentance and Forgiveness: Finding Healing and Justice for Reconcilable and Irreconcilable Wrongs, (Ampelon Publishing, 2006).


If you’ve wronged someone, God expects you to repent before He’ll forgive. If someone has wronged you, God wants that person to repent to you first before seeking His forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness are inextricably linked, because God’s goal for both is reconciliation – reconciling people to each other and to Him.


Here’s how you can repent and forgive to heal broken relationships:


* Commit to keeping a clean slate. Don’t let injustices and wounds fester without dealing with them. Regularly pursue healing for both your own sins and those of others against you. Make it a top priority to keep a clean slate in your relationships with God and other people. Ask the Holy Spirit to continually bring to mind people whose forgiveness you need to seek. Then be obedient to that leading.


* Live horizontally as well as vertically. Understand that, to fulfill Jesus’ command to love God and your neighbors, you need to live in two relational dimensions: vertically (your relationship with God) and horizontally (your relationships with other people). Realize that the way you live in relationship with other people – believers and nonbelievers, friends and enemies alike – will affect your relationship with God. Know also that your relationship with God must affect how you live in relationship with others. Remember that God has called you to live in a community that is bound to Him and others in love. Recognize that you can’t ever justify harboring hatred against another person.


* Don’t settle for cheap forgiveness. Recognize the need to confront people who have wronged you to encourage their repentance before you forgive them. Know that if you simply forgive them unilaterally in prayer with God but don’t bother to confront them to try to restore the relationship, you’re cheating both yourself and them. Understand also that if you simply ask God to forgive you for sins you’ve committed against others without first seeking forgiveness from people you have wronged, your prayers may be hindered because you haven’t made the effort God wants you to make before coming to Him about it. Be aware that just “letting it go” isn’t enough because reconciliation is not a one-sided transaction. Pursue true forgiveness – which is tied to repentance – to truly transform your relationships.