Proverbs 18:19 “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
Have you been #wounded or hurt by a co-worker, friend, significant other, etc?
Perhaps you are thinking, “Dude! I am hurt daily by (insert your person here). I don’t get it. What pleasure is there in hurting me?!”
If you are finding yourself in a difficult, and unsafe situation, please get to help as quickly and as safely as possible. If you are facing a domestic violence situation, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or online here. The below suggestions are not emergency help tips, but rather guidelines in relatively safe (non-violent) situations.
Jesus gave us instructions for dealing with someone who does wrong (whatever that may be) against us. The instructions are specifically about someone who is a close friend (or “brother”) in the Christian faith. The same principles can be applied to other situations.
Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
If this person has harmed you, don’t ignore the problem. The problem will not disappear on its own. When I was growing up, I would often hear the phrase, “Just let it go. It’s not that big of a problem.” I will agree that many issues that cause us to be upset may not be a large issue that has catastrophic consequences; however, as we begin to age, we begin to realize that there are some issues that are greater than others and need addressed sooner than later.
First things first!
Our first thought may be inquiring why are we experiencing this barrier in our life. Maybe our thought is only of anger, and rage. Our first thoughts need not to be focused on the concern, and instead, focusing on God. He is doing something in this moment. (It may not be easy for us to see what is happening, though.) This is a moment crafted for His glory, and we have been given the awesome fearful power of eclipsing His glory. We must walk carefully. Walk humbly. It is far easier to forget about His glory than it is to reflect it (something we should be considering if we are a Christian).
Our next thoughts should then be a reflection of our own hearts. What is driving our heart in this moment? Fear? Desire for things that have turned into demands? Selfishness? There is only one legitimate drive for God-glorifying relationships—God’s glory. He wants us to learn that, and He wants us to learn how to do that. If we don’t have difficult relationships, we will never learn of the power available to us through Him to live and demonstrate love in those difficult relationships. This is an opportunity to know God with a new intimacy. He wants this for us more than He wants anything else for us.
If the situation that we are finding ourselves in is truly a disagreement between another individual(s), then the Bible gives us some additional tips on how we can pursue reconciliation (or a resolve of the issue).
Three Methods for Reconciliation
The Bible tells us that this person who has caused you harm needs to be aware of the wrongful actions and correct their way. We are to seek reconciliation by following these three steps as shared by Jesus.
- First, (if it is safe) approach 1:1. Go alone to the individual and tell them your concern. Most of the time, you can correct the problem between the two of you.
- Second, take 1 or 2 other people with you. If they will not listen to you or correct the problem, you should take 1 or 2 other people with you and return to the individual so that they may be witnesses of your concern with this individual. These witnesses should be morally sound, not quick to anger, and may be mutual friends of both parties. These individuals may need to speak boldly to both parties so as not to be unilaterally sided leading to a greater contention between to 2 affected individuals. This person should begin to realize the seriousness of the alleged concern and, hopefully, be open to resolving the problem.
- Finally, take it before a greater number of witnesses. If this person does not listen to you and to the others you take with you, you must then take it to a greater number of witnesses. (In the case of an issue inside of the church – the church body). At this point, the multiple witnesses need to hear the problem and may serve as a “jury of the peers” between you and the offender. If this person will not listen to the witnesses, the Bible indicates that their heart is not right before God and you don’t have to have a personal relationship with this person.
People often throw hard-hitting emotional blows as a self-defense mechanism to try to deflect their anger, rage, pain, #trauma, etc. that they have experienced in their own lives. Until they addressed their own #trauma, they will never find healing although they will continue to try to mask their concerns by confronting and challenging others in these harmful ways.
If you are facing a difficult situation with another person, realize that you may not be the target of their emotions and just happen to be the closest object for their attack. That doesn’t make the emotions any less real or their responses any more acceptable.
The confrontational individual must seek care first for their issues, however, if you find that you are the recipient of their pain, know that you do not have to continue to suffer. Follow the steps above, if it is safe to do so, and begin mending the relationship slowly.
The truth is that “no one heals by WOUNDING another.”