Dealing with Conflict
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)
We have all been in a situation where someone has offended us or upset us and we struggle with what to do about it. We sometimes struggle with whether or not we should even be offended. Maybe we are overreacting. Maybe we are being too sensitive. Maybe it’s not worth bringing it up to the other person. Maybe we should just let it go. So what do we do? Often we seek the advice of a trusted friend, a confidant, or maybe even our pastor. But is this what we should do? Jesus says in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Notice Jesus does not say, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and [talk to someone else to first determine if you should go and] tell him his fault, between you and him alone.’ Jesus commands that the very first thing you should do, if someone offends you, is go directly to that person—not a friend, not your pastor—but directly to that person, privately, and talk to him or her one on one. But what if we are not sure we should talk to that person? Maybe we just need to talk through our frustration with someone else. What if we genuinely are wondering if we are simply overreacting? Then that should be determined by going directly to the person who has offended you and saying that to him or her. For example, ‘Hey friend, you said something to me the other day that really upset me. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I should be upset, but I thought I’d share it with you anyway so we can talk about it.’ The reason for going directly to the person who has upset you and not first going to someone else is clear from Jesus’ words: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” No one else needs to know. No other relationship needs to be damaged. When we talk to person B about how person A has offended us, we accomplish damage the reputation of person A in the eyes of person B. We diminish the opinion of person B regarding person A. Now instead of one relationship being damaged between yourself and person A, you have now damaged the relationship between person A and person B. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:15 are not a suggestion, they are a commandment. If someone upsets you, you must go directly to that person to discuss it and not go to someone else. If you are not certain you should talk to the person who has upset you, then you should keep the matter to yourself and speak with no one. Speaking with someone else about how someone has offended you is how division begins within relationships and within the church. Going to someone else instead of going to the person who has upset you is always sinful.
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