You’re killing me.
There are times when we all get into spats with people.
Arguments. Disputes. ‘Major Disagreements.’
It may start with a harshly-spoken word, a misunderstanding, an accident, or something done on purpose.
Whatever the cause may be, we have been and will always continue to get into conflict with people.
And when it’s between brothers and sisters in Christ, those just seem to be a little bit harder.
They are harder because, out of love for them, you want to be reconciled. You want to restore the relationship. And yet, we tend to beat our chest, claiming that we are innocent, and then asking: “Shouldn’t they know better?” If an unbeliever offends you, well, they simply don’t know any better. Such arguments or harsh words tend to roll off, and we gladly take it, because the persecuted are blessed, right?
So with strength and dignity we head into our days ready to take on the world, to be a light for all of the evil people.
But then…you discover a friend is gossiping about you. Someone tells you you’re not good enough. A Christian brother confronts you about how you offended them.
Suddenly, it seems like the dynamics change.
If a harsh word once rolled off, it now tears into your heart like a knife, and you find yourself in the awkward predicament of not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with what should be a close, dear, friend in Christ.
Personally, I hate conflict.
If I feel like I might have offended someone, more often than not I go to that person and apologize, to which they (usually) blink in surprise and tell me not to worry about it. That it’s all good.
Perhaps it is but, if I don’t approach the subject, I tend to worry. If I don’t set out to reconcile with someone I believe I have wronged, I constantly worry about it. I wonder if they hate me, and if they will ever talk to me again. Such thoughts not only consume my mind but can affect the way I talk to them in passing…if I even talk to them.
On the other hand, my extreme dislike for conflict can cause me to simply not approach a subject that needs to be brought up. I decide to worry over the situation, rather than resolve it.
Jesus did not argue for a passive-aggressive attitude, nor a ‘Let-em-have-it’ one. While the old law taught that murder was wrong, Jesus took it a step further: “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire”( Matthew 5:22).
Not only does He point out anger in the heart as a sin, but He then implores us to place a very high priority on settling any cases we may have with others: “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Realistically, for someone to leave a sacrificial gift at the temple and travel (possibly for days) back to their hometown to settle a dispute would be time consuming, and inconvenient. But, if Jesus is telling us to settle such disputes before we approach God with our gift, should we not place this at a top priority?
Whether you have been rightly or wrongly accused by someone, it may take a step of humility on your part to approach them, and to humbly bring the subject up. It may take a: “…If I’ve done anything to offend you, please let me know. I want to make sure that what I said was not taken the wrong way.”
Sometimes they may deny the attempt at reconciliation. Sometimes, they will accept. Or they may say – “No worries!”
Whatever the response may be, it is our responsibility to seek out reconciliation, confess our faults, and to ask for forgiveness from others who may have a dispute with us. Even if you feel like you have done no wrong, a kind word or an action of humble love can do wonders to a hardened heart.
Issues will arise; don’t let them become a separation between a friend, or between God.