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Focus: Dealing with an offense
Matthew 18:15-17 (NKJV) 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.
No matter how hard you try, there will be some relationships that don’t work out the way God would have wanted. It’s painful to have to face, but this is not a perfect world.
The Bible was written about real people and their experiences. When Jesus was here, He was very much aware of the difficulties His followers faced…sometimes with each other.
If Jesus hadn’t known there would be times when our brothers and sisters in Christ would behave in wrong ways, He wouldn’t have made it a point to give such straightforward directions about how to handle such an occurrence.
It’s always best if differences between believers can be taken care of privately and ‘settled outside of court’. It’s never a pretty thing when someone has to be publicly reprimanded. Truthfully, it’s quite rare that differences ever come to the point of having to ‘go before the church’. I’ve only had to witness this happening to someone once in my life, and I hope I never have to see it again. It’s just pitiful when people can’t agree and when one believer has so much against another believer that they have to push things to that extreme.
Many of us have suffered offenses and just didn’t want to take it to the full letter of the law in order to get justice.
If someone has sinned in a way that has offended you, you have a choice to make. You are the only one who can decide what course of action to take. It’s a painful position to be in, no matter which way you turn. Any way you look at it, you are at the mercy of God…and He sees.
Sometimes, we can put a matter in the hands of God and just walk away, trusting Him to work it out in His way and in His time…laying down our will and giving it up to God. I can speak from experience that it takes a lot of courage to put your reputation on the line and let the chips fall where they may. People may wonder about you, and you may have to be willing to endure suspicion.
Whatever route you choose, God is there for you. He is the One who understands better than anyone what has been done and the awkwardness of your circumstances…and that may be all you have to hold onto. But don’t forget God is merciful toward you and the other person, also. His love extends to both of you. His desire may always be for healing and restoration, but we can’t predict His ways of bringing those things about.
What you can be sure of, is that He will not leave you hopeless. He has a way of making crooked things straight and turning darkness into light. The hard part, is that the fulfillment of His plan often requires that we die to ourselves in ways that aren’t easy…or convenient.
If you find yourself faced with a complicated situation that might actually require you to take steps toward following the scriptural method for handling an offense that just can’t be resolved in any other way, be sure that you have spent plenty of time in prayer and fasting before you make your final decision.
There is so much at stake when this approach is taken. Emotions can get in the way and the whole thing has the potential of turning uglier. You have to be conscious of the possible outcome before you get to that point. You also have to consider whether there will ever be peace as a result of choosing that course of action, even though it’s an option.
When we are caught in the middle of an offense, we can want justice so much that we become blind to the consequences.
God always rewards humility. His heart is touched with compassion toward the one who deserves justice but doesn’t demand it. His favor is worth more than the approval of a million people.
Declaration: I will find new strength in knowing what the Word of God says concerning my life and my needs. In situations of extreme pressure, I will wait on God for the wisdom I need in order to make the right choice as to how I should respond to another believer who has sinned against me.
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