It seems that more and more people in our society are offended by something someone says and does. And when we are offended, we make sure everyone knows about it. How dare they say that about me, my family, my lifestyle, etc! But what does the Bible say about it. According to Matthew 18:15-18
15 If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.
16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
17 If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. Amplified Bible (AMP)
Notice the first thing Jesus says in the passage, ” If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between the two of you privately. This means go and confront him alone. It does not say to discuss this with your best friend, tell everyone you know, or post it on the internet. And I love the second part of verse 15, “If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.” Problem solved!
But what if you can’t solve it? What if pride comes along and it doesn’t go well? At this point, you have one of two options. You can drop it because it is not worth your time or if you feel it is important, you can share with one or two others and then you go to the person and try to solve the conflict. Make sure the person you share it with is someone you can trust; someone who will not tell everyone. It still doesn’t say to tell everyone and get people to take your side.
After the second discussion with the individual, if you feel it’s important, that’s when you can tell others. However, you must look at your heart and motives before you do so. If you are angry and not satisfied with the outcome, ask yourself why. Is it because my pride is hurt? Did they say something I didn’t like and I don’t feel they are sincere in their apology? Do they need to do more to rectify the situation? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, your motives may not be pure? And above all else, pray for a pure heart and wisdom before you go public with anything. Otherwise, you very well may make the situation worse.
When I was the leader of a homeschool co-op, this was the model we used to solve conflicts. If someone came to me with a problem, I always asked them if they had gone to the person who offended them. If they said no, I always said, “Go talk to them and let me know how it goes.” It got to the point that when someone had a problem they would say, “I know, I need to practice Matthew 18, but I need some advice.” Now that was ok because one of my responsibilities was to solve conflicts and I needed to know when things weren’t working out. And besides that, anything said in my office behind closed doors stayed there.
About 95% of our conflicts were solved at step 1 and I did not have to step in. Most of the problems were communication issues, maybe someone was not clear with directions or maybe something had been misinterpreted. Sometimes when a problem occurred because of a child’s behavior, this helped the teacher and parent get on the same page.
Can you imagine how well this would work in a family setting? If our spouse offended us and we confronted them right away, we can solve it. I know that when I confront my husband in love instead of sulking, we fix it. If he hurt my feelings, he apologizes and I do the same. He may not be sorry for what he said or did but he is sorry that he hurt me and visa versa. We don’t need to tell our girlfriends or mother everything our spouse does. And we certainly don’t need to post it on facebook or write a blog about it.
And think about teaching this principle to children! If we could teach them to let their sibling know they hurt their feelings instead of hurling back another insult or hitting, we would have homes that were peaceful and not battlegrounds.
You know, the Bible really is our roadmap for life. God created the world, people, and our emotions and He has the answer to all of our problems.