Tell Me What I Did Wrong... Please!

Hello! I just got back from a great a week of church camping and am reminded how much I love spending time with other believers! However, when you are around any group of people there is a chance that you will be offended by someone or that you will will offend someone else. (Note: nobody offended me! Hopefully I didn't offend anyone else!)
That brings us to this week's command, 'Go to Offenders.'  "Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother" (Matthew 18:15).  The point of this command is not to let every single person that hurts your feelings know how hurt you were and to rehearse the offense. I think the key idea here is that we are to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters. "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).
This starts with us. Jesus begins the command with 'Go.'  We need to take the initiative to get right with others, rather than stubbornly waiting until they come to you. This is important, because Jesus said that before we even come to Him with our worship and gifts, we must first be reconciled to our brother (Matthew 5:23-24).  If we don't reconcile quickly, we can be tempted to bitterly share the story with others who are not part of the problem, hoping to gain sympathy. "Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another" (Proverbs 25:9).
First things first: you need to forgive them. If your forgiveness is conditional on whether they ask forgiveness first, then you do not have the mind of Christ. Christ forgave us and died for us while we were still in our sins and had not yet repented...we must do the same to those who offend us.
Oftentimes people say or do hurtful things toward us because of something we have done first. If you need to talk to an offender, and after you have forgiven them, ask them if there was some way that you have offended them. Be willing to listen and hear their side of the story. Remember, you are not talking to them to rehearse your hurt feelings, but to 'gain your brother.'
Just to clarify, this isn't a mandate to 'seek reconciliation' over every little thing. Just because someone doesn't help you with dinner dishes doesn't mean you need to have a conference--just forgive them. Use discernment and be quick to forgive. If you sense that they have offended you because of bitterness towards you, it may be a good time to initiate reconciliation.
It is quite interesting how God likes to teach us and sometimes I do not like His practical approach of helping me understand His commandments. Last Sunday, literally hours after I had studied this command, a few people began to verbally attack me in front of others. I was really hurt and almost began to cry and was trying to defend myself.  Afterward I was mad that they had ganged up on me and had said hurtful things. I began to rehearse what they had said and promptly let one of the offenders know how I felt about the situation. God reminded me that I had not forgiven them and was therefore  not in a position to go to them. God helped me to see why they had said what they said and I realized that they were responding to my lack of character.  Even though I did not like being humbled, God helped me to see more clearly what it meant to obey this command, and that it would not be easy!
-Can you think of someone who has offended you?
-Have you thoroughly examined yourself before preparing to go to an offender?
-Are you free from bitterness and anger?
-Have you kept the offense between you and your offender?
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:17-18)
Blessings,
Amanda
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

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