Last night, I served as a sounding board for a friend who is having a really hard time with some circumstances in her life. I tried to listen and be encouraging. My encouragement was to go straight to the source of the problem-in this case, the person-and she plans to do so. This is always my advice. I'll listen all you want, but at the heart of the matter, only working it out with the source of your frustration will ease the problem. Even if you think the person is an inconsiderate sloth that is completely unreasonable-that is still the only path you have to deal with the other person. Prayer helps, but even God has laid out very clearly for us that when our brother offends us we are to first GO TO THE BROTHER. Today, another friend called me and we talked about an almost identical problem. My answer was the same-go to your brother. You must work it out with your brother.
" 15"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."
Seldom is that the case though. We first want to do a little something I call "rallying the troops". We want to go to a friend and say: "Hey, I'm having this problem with Janice. How about you? Do you ever have that problem with Janice? You do? So it isn't just me? How do you deal with her? Great idea. I'm going to pray for her and from now on, that is how I will deal with her too. Thanks for listening, I'm not even mad at Janice anymore. I'll just dismiss this incident now that I know, bless her heart, THAT IS JUST THE WAY SHE IS."
At first glance, one might say there is nothing wrong with that approach, but let's look a little deeper. Having a problem with Janice might be a little bit your fault to, but in this scenario, that isn't revealed at all. It is pretty much impossible for something to only be the fault of one person. As I tell my children all the time-it takes two to tango. In this case, one to annoy, one to be annoyed. We often assume the annoyer is at fault, but perhaps being the annoyee takes just as much fault.
Perhaps the biggest glaring errors in "rallying the troops" is twofold: NUMBER ONE-Janice was NEVER consulted. She has offended a brother and is not even aware. How selfish. How can Janice grow in maturity when someone is not even willing to go to her and discuss the offense? Who decided she wasn't worth the effort? Does God say that anyone is not worth confronting in their sin? Eventually all the "troops" will treat Janice with the same disregard and she will feel isolated. Sure she is "loved and prayed for", but is that really what God calls us to do? Perhaps by going to a brother when we feel sinned against is commanded because God knows it will change BOTH people for the better. Offering and receiving grace are two of the biggest gifts a person can bestow(receiving grace can humble you in a way nothing else will). NUMBER TWO- The "troops" have just put themselves on a higher spiritual plane. They look across at one another, but down at Janice. To quote the church lady, "They feel just a little bit superior." A good self image is one thing, esteeming yourself (or someone else) higher than another is just sinful. Don't get me wrong, we all have people we click with, we can enjoy their company without thinking they are superior to other people. We may have favorites, but God sure doesn't.
I am very frustrated because I am just feeling just a little bit too much like the Janice in my examples these days. I know I have offended people and continue to do so. In big ways and in small ways. Some people have come to me and we have talked and our relationships have grown strong- tested. However, other people have been offended and just remain distant. Aloof. It comes across in their lack of communication. Have you ever known you screwed up, you just weren't sure which mistake it was that did it? Have you ever offended someone to the extent that they dislike you so much you can feel it oozing from their pores when you say hello? That is how I feel. I know I am a blunt person that very few people understand. I can totally relate, I talk to God daily about why he made me the way he made me. It drives ME crazy, I can't even imagine the havok it wreaks on those around me. However, HE DID CREATE ME THIS WAY and he does have a reason and a purpose for my life. I am who HE says I am-GOOD ENOUGH only when covered in the blood, just like you. I am a struggling and sometimes failing Christian doing the very best I know how. I belong to Him and that makes me good enough and worth the "trouble", even if some of the "troops" don't think so.
I'm thinking about confronting them. What do you think? Really, you feel the same way? I know, that is just how they are. I'll be praying.