I just found the draft for this post that is a part of my series on the heart. I never posted it. There was a reason for that. I was struggling with having a forgiving heart at the time. God is good, and I am amazed by his timing. He provided exactly what I needed through His Word. I'm praying now that the time is right to share this post with you.
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
There are times in life when there are wrongs that need dealt with. These are never easy. I've been in a few. My heart has hurt when there has been a brother or sister that has not been restored. But on the other hand, it is a joy when reconciliation is made. The relationship is deepened, and I've drawn closer to the person involved.
As a minister's wife, I hear about a lot of wounded relationships. Many and deep are the wounds when people harbor anger, bitterness, and unforgiving attitudes in their hearts. Relationships are permanently severed. Families and even churches split.
In my experience, most of the time when the wounded is asked if they have gone to the person involved, the answer is "no." There are all kinds of reasons why. "You know them. They wouldn't listen. It would just make matters worse." I'm going to be blunt here. As Christians we have no business talking about our hurts to others if we have not gone to the person involved first. Talking to others outside of the problem puts even more strain on the wounded relationship, and the already taut rope is likely to break.
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There are times we need godly counsel. However, for me I find I must examine my motive when I'm seeking that counsel. Many times I find I am looking for a sympathetic ear. I want someone to empathize with me. Honestly, I want someone else on my side. I must only seek counsel if I am looking to mend the relationship and am willing to forgive the one who offended me. Otherwise, I've become a gossip and a divisive person. These are not spoken well of in God's Word.
As a Christian I must be willing to follow the guidelines laid out by Christ himself in dealing with conflict and times when I've been sinned against. These are things I remind myself of when I get in a tough situation.
1. Ask myself, "Is this a situation I need to overlook realizing that love covers a multitude of sins?"
2. Pray. Seek God's guidance and counsel. Look at my own life carefully and honestly to see where I might be at fault.
3. Only confront if I have the proper attitude of seeking to restore a brother. It is not a time for vindicating myself.
4. Remember, "Be careful to only go to the person involved and to not draw others into the conflict until the time that Christ set out in His Word?"