When Is It Ok To Re-Friend?
Gen 42:6-7 Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them.
Joseph took some time before he let his brothers know who he was. He watched and tested them first. God had grown Joseph in his attitude and behavior and he needed to see the true attitudes of his brothers. Sometimes we have an old friend come back to us, someone with whom we have disagreed or had a conflict, and we need to decide if we can trust them as a friend again. How do we decide if it's okay to re-friend them?
Restoring a broken relationship is so important that God commands His followers to take the initiative to reconcile not only when they have been offended, but also when they have been the offender:
"So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." Matt 5:25
The conflict with your old friend must first be resolved. A private conversation will allow a misunderstanding to be cleared up quickly. If it is a matter of sin, a private meeting keeps the offender from undue shame or embarrassment and allows him to deal with the matter between himself and God. More details on resolving a conflict between believers is described in Matthew 18.
If you are able to resolve the conflict, then continue to move forward cautiously. Look for "fruit of the spirit": love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If the other person has allowed God to change their heart then their life will show the evidence of those changes. As the evidence comes to light you can allow yourself to increase your trust in your old friend. Joseph's brothers demonstrate honesty and goodness and, therefore, Joseph reveals his true identity to them and reconciles their relationship.