We humans have a way of bringing down anyone who is not like us or gets in the way of our popularity or position seeking manipulations. It’s sad really, because this unthinking, shoot from the hip, strong versus weak basic, earthy behavior is found in animals who don’t have what we have—a brain that reasons.
My grandpa raised chickens on his interesting, unique farm among other many other animals as a way to supplement his living as a carpenter. I loved being with him, learning from him, as I walked with him. I asked a million questions as I followed him around to do the chores, feeding his menagerie. Grandpa loved all kinds of animals. He even had peacocks, cockateels, parakeets and other exotic birds that he raised and sold to pet stores. I could see the fascination on his face as he cared for them.
However, his face would suddenly change to a dark frown when a group of chickens and the bossy rooster would gather to peck on an injured or weak chicken. He would rush in and pull the beaten down chick aside and put it into a separate pen until the bird was strong again. If left unattended, the bullies would peck the poor weak chicken to death.
Sometimes we do that among our families, in our churches, and in our workplaces. Instead of pecking or being pecked to death with hateful words, escalated accusations, demeaning the character of another, manipulations, fighting back, getting even by being a bully or being bullied, as believers, we have a plan to stop this madness.
THE JESUS PLAN FOR RESOLUTION AND RECONCILIATION AMONG BELIEVERS
Sounds like an important document, doesn’t it? It is! Jesus says to try to solve the dispute or misunderstanding among believers first in private. Don’t take it to the chicken yard to fight it out or be pecked to death! “This is what hurts who we are in Christ” is said with a spirit of Grace and Truth. Stick to the facts. THINK before we speak. Use this filter of THINK and pause in prayer before the words of reconciliation spill out. Is what I’m about to say to the offender the Truth, Helpful to the situation, Inspiring to both of us, Necessary to rebuild the relationship and most of all, Kind, said with grace and mercy?
Offenders will be more likely to listen. If they still do not, Jesus says to take it to the leaders for wisdom and consideration. If that doesn’t work and the offender continues to hurt the mission of the church with manipulations and gossip thwarting the ministry of God’s work, then we must leave them to be who they are—offenders who believe only in getting their own way. Jesus calls them pagans—unbelievers.
Whoa, this is hard to hear and even harder to achieve in our world that is so easily offended by most everything and also by what Jesus says in His Word to us. But this is for the Body of Christ infractions. Keep that in mind. In the Body of Christ, we will have disagreements, but we must look to the end goal and resolutely invite the mind of Christ to rule our thoughts and actions. Peace can be had. Peace, along with restored relationships within the Body, begins with you and I. The following is the process taught by Jesus.
Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled
Matthew 18:15-18, NLT
Correcting Another Believer
15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Warren Wiersbe, my favorite commentator relates, “Above all else, go to him with the idea of winning your brother, not winning an argument.”
“It is possible to win the argument and lose your brother. We must have a spirit of meekness and gentleness when we seek to restore a brother or sister (Gal. 6:1). We must not go about condemning the offender, or spreading gossip. We must lovingly seek to help him in the same way we would want him to help us if the situation were reversed. The word “restore” in Galatians 6:1 is a Greek medical word that means “to set a broken bone.” Think of the patience and tenderness that requires!” (Wiersbe)
Wiersbe explains verses 18-20; “There is a desperate need for honesty in the church today. “Speaking the truth in love” is God’s standard (Eph. 4:15). If we practice love without truth, it is hypocrisy. But if we try to have truth without love, it may be brutality. Jesus always taught the truth in love. If the truth hurts, it is because “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).
“But keep in mind that humility must come before honesty. A proud Christian cannot speak the truth in love. He will use a brother’s faults as a weapon to fight with and not as a tool to build with. The result will be only greater disharmony and disagreement.”
“Not only must there be the authority of the Word, but there must also be prayer (Matt. 18:19). It is through prayer and the Word that we ascertain the will of the Father in the matter. “Where two or three agree”…”and believe”, God is there. We cannot discipline others if we ourselves are not disciplined. Whatever we loose (permit) in the assembly must first have been permitted by God.” (Wiersbe)
We conclude that this process is for times when the mission and ministry of the Body of Christ, called “church”, is threatened from within the Body by another believer. To correct and judge the world is the work of God. That is another lesson for another time.
As we live and breathe, we will be offended daily by some action, event, or by the words of someone in this world. That’s life. Even in these instances, outside the Body of Christ, how we respond can encourage someone seeking–or push them farther away from God. Ask for God’s wisdom. We must THINK before we speak or act. Build relationships, don’t tear them down. Point them to Jesus by living Jesus out loud to all—in Grace and Truth. Don’t play chicken!
Lord, help us in the hard task of building relationships based on your love and forgiveness because of your mercy and grace given freely. Lord, give us wisdom, extreme wisdom, in all our relationships. Help us to know Truth and live it. Help us to live graciously.
In Jesus Name, Amen