(Originally Posted June 26, 2013)
You know that sibling in Christ who only text you when they need something or they’re having some kind of crisis? Or maybe it’s that sibling in Christ who is always competing with you or trying to outdo you? Or that sibling in Christ that has nothing nice to say and acts like a Negative Nancy? Or what about that sibling in Christ who can tell you everything that is wrong with you, but has yet to shine a magnifying glass on their own mess of a life? Or maybe that sibling in Christ who failed to keep their word to you once again?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all had experiences with our siblings in Christ similar to these. So what do we do when our sibling in Christ does us wrong? Do we do as Christ says in Matthew 5:39 and turn the other cheek or do we hold a grudge and plot our retaliation? Do we say that we forgive them, but every time we see them we give them the cold shoulder? Or do we keep silent and let our anger boil?
Before I get into what we’re supposed to do, let me say this: From my personal experience, it hurts much more and angers me much more when a fellow Christian does me wrong in comparison to a nonbeliever. I’m not sure about y’all, but I get hot when my brother or sister in Christ mistreats me. Why? I believe it’s the expectation. I mean I don’t expect much from the world. My thinking is this “You have Jesus Christ living in you so you shouldn’t be mistreating me like this!” I have to remind myself that even though we have Jesus living inside of us, we still have a messed up, jacked up flesh that is weak and sinful.
“…The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
So, once again, what do we do when our siblings in Christ hurt us?
Confront them! Lovingly, of course.
“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. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Confrontations are never easy and are extremely uncomfortable, but they are a must. Confrontations can go 1 of 2 ways.
1. They can go smoothly and the person you’re confronting takes what you say to heart immediately. A lot of times people don’t even realize that they’ve done something wrong and just simply need it brought to their attention.
2. They can be rough. The person can reject everything you say and will likely be angry with you. However, if they are truly in the wrong and they have a true relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will convict them and they will realize the error of their ways. If they don’t, you can do like Matthew 18:16 says and confront them amongst a couple of other Christians who can help serve as mediators. And if that still doesn’t work, all you can do is give them to God.
The main thing is that you confront your brothers and sisters in Christ when they hurt you.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”.
Don’t hold on to that anger and let it fester or you will end up sinning too. That anger will turn into bitterness and resentment, which will just make the situation worse.
“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”
Bitterness and joy don’t mix. If you’re bitter, you can’t have joy. So pretty much, if you hold on to the hurt of what someone did to you and let it turn into bitterness, your life will lack joy. Is it really worth it?
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
So in addition to a lack of joy, you will be sinning against God since He says specifically in His word to put away bitterness. So let’s break this down: First you’re angry with the person and let that anger fester. Sin! Then you’re bitter. Another sin! Then, more than likely, you’re probably bad mouthing and slandering that person. Sin! So, in a nutshell, you have done all this sinning just because you refused to confront your sibling in Christ. Is it really worth it?
We don’t want to sin so let’s talk about confronting your sibling in Christ.
When confronting them, please, please, please remember that this is not an opportunity for you to give them a piece of your mind, go off, or tell them about themselves. No, it’s not. Even when confronting our siblings in Christ, we must do it in love. Yes, address the issue, but don’t take this as an opportunity to bring up every single mistake they’ve made or put a guilt trip on them. When confronting them, focus on the facts: what they did wrong and how that made you feel. Avoid using “you” statements as much as possible, “I” statements work best. Be aware of your tone; don’t be condescending or condemning. And please, please, please remember that once you hash it out, that’s it. Don’t bring it up 2 weeks, 2 months, or 5 years from now. Once you deal with it, that’s it. We need to take the same approach that God does with us when we sin against Him and we ask for forgiveness.
“He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Once we ask God for forgiveness, He takes our sins and throws them into the bottom of the sea and that’s it. He forgets all about them. God doesn’t bring up those sins and throws them back in our face.
Now for the next step: forgive! After confronting your sibling in Christ, you must forgive them! Yes, this is much easier said than done, but it’s necessary.
“14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We forgive because God forgives us. We all sin against God everyday and need His forgiveness constantly. But if we don’t forgive, how can we expect God to forgive us? We can’t expect Him to be merciful to us if we can’t show mercy to others. With forgiveness, more often than not, it must be an act of faith. You may not feel like you forgive them, but living out that forgiveness is a huge step. By living out that forgiveness I mean walking in love towards them, being kind and cordial when you see them, not getting angry or having something negative to say whenever you hear their name…when you step out on faith and act out that forgiveness, God will eventually line your feelings up with your actions.
I know I’m probably beating a dead horse with this topic, but there is too much strife and unforgiveness amongst the body of Christ. Christians not talking to one another…holding grudges…it has to stop. Think about this: You are going to spend eternity, yes eternity, with these people so you better get it right now or you will have to deal with it when you get to heaven and, trust me, God will not accept any excuses.