Read 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.
Think about the last time you had a conflict with another Christian. Did you seek to correct the problem privately first?
Our culture has a conflict resolution problem. If someone does you wrong, blast them on social media. “Vent” over coffee with friends about them. If it’s a coworker, tattle to your boss. Mad at your child’s teacher? Bring the issue up in public at a school board meeting. But it is definitely not the cultural norm to approach the problem with the person that it directly involves first.
Unfortunately, this method of “conflict resolution” has seeped into church culture as well. Did you catch someone in sin? Tattle to the pastor. Have a problem with the pastor? Go straight to the elders. Have an issue with someone from Bible study? Gossip about them behind their backs with other members. Did someone in your church family say or do something that hurt you? Blast them on social media. These days, you can even leave bad reviews for churches on their websites and social media pages!
But how did Jesus tell us to resolve conflict within the church? Privately and directly with the person who sinned against you whenever possible. In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus lays out the steps for conflict resolution and discipline within the church. I am only focusing on the first step because I have found that most problems between two believers can be solved after just this first step. But when this first step is skipped, problems grow into huge divisions. An issue between two people becomes everyone taking sides. The church begins to fight amongst each other. This should not be.
Jesus was speaking to believers about how to address sin with other believers. But what if we sought to resolve all of our problems this way? Even with unbelievers? What if we approached that co-worker privately without involving our boss? What if we set up a meeting with our child’s teacher to hear their side of the story? What if we spoke face to face with the person that hurt us? What if we vowed to never post on social media while we are angry with someone?
Friends, following the first step in Jesus’s plan for resolution, has the power to restore relationships. If you want people to see Jesus in you, follow in His ways-especially when you are hurt and angry.
Jesus, Your way is always the best way. Help me to follow Your plan to graciously address those who have sinned against me. Just as I would want them to approach me in my sin. Amen.