God will never lead you to do something contrary to the truth of Scripture, and the overriding principle of the New Testament Scripture when you’re wronged or hurt is to go to the person(s) involved in order to seek reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration of the relationship. It doesn’t matter what happened, this is what you must do unless you choose to ignore what Scripture teaches when you’re wronged or perceive you are wronged. By the way, I’ve found that many times the hurts we incur are unintentional, but even when they’re intentional we still need to follow the New Testament teaching.
Please note: I’m not saying this is a blanket concept that covers everything that happens, but rather I’m speaking of normal relationship conflicts and hurts. When someone sins against you by seriously hurting you or they commit a crime against you there still needs to be forgiveness, but I realize trust may never be restored and I’m not suggesting the relationship needs to be restored. There should be consequences and restitution for crimes committed against you or those you love. There again, I’m not talking about those situations in this blog; I’m speaking of normal relational conflicts.
I’ve known a number of people who have been “in a bad place” spiritually, emotionally or physically and then respond to situations where they feel hurt in unwise ways. I’ve been guilty of this personally and it doesn’t honor Christ.
If you’re a follower of Christ and you respond to a hurt or wrong without going directly to the person(s) who offended you, you violate the desire and directive of Jesus found in Matthew 18:15-17. I realize we don’t practice “church discipline” much anymore, but I also know if most people would practice Matthew 18:15, and Matthew 18:16 when necessary, most problems and hurts could be remedied.
When we respond to a hurt with anger, we end up hurting ourselves and those around us. James 1:19-20 Msg says: Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. It hurts you and others because being right with God never grows from our anger, and when I’m not in right relationship with God I make unwise decisions. Ephesians 4:26-27 TLB states: If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil.
I believe that forgiveness much be immediate and given over and over, but rebuilding trust often takes time. Keep in mind that scripture repeats this principle over and over; “forgive as God has forgiven you”.
The restoration of relationships is critical in the church because Satan’s strategy against God’s church is to create hurt, distrust and disunity. As Paul Billheimer says in his classic Love Covers: disunity in the church is Satan’s master strategy, and Billheimer states the sin of disunity has probably caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined.
Almost every church in the New Testament must have struggled with this issue because it’s addressed in most of Paul’s letters. Check out a few of these passages: a) Romans 12:9-21, b) 1 Corinthians 1:10, c) Ephesians 4, d) Philippians 2:1-5, e) Colossians 3:1-17. In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul appealed to the Christians at this church to live in harmony with each other and to be of one mind and purpose so there’d be no divisions in the church. He didn’t make the appeal on his own authority, but by the authority of the Lord Jesus!
Speaking of Jesus, His prayer as recorded in John 17 is a clear a picture of what He desires for us as His followers. He prays for us to be ONE just like He and His Father are ONE. He prays that we’ll live in unity so the world will be drawn to Him. When we put aside our differences and hurts and work together by loving and serving one another and others, we can move forward to accomplish His purpose in the world.
Some simple things you can do are: a) pray for the unity of your church, b) protect the unity of your church by being a unifier, and c) preserve the unity of your church by encouraging others to do the right thing (Mt. 18:15) when they experience problems.
If you’re interested in hearing a little more on this topic, I’d encourage you to watch The Invisible War Part 5 from 2 weeks ago at Grace Fellowship. You can find this message under the Watch Previous Messages at http://gf.church/messages
God Bless You.