11th August 2018

Overlook/Forgive/Confront

“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No!’ Jesus replied, ‘seventy times seven!’”
Matthew 18:21-22 (TLB) 

One thing that can tie Christians up in knots is the way they are treated by other Christians. What should we do when another Christian is rude to us, ignores us, gossips behind our back or constantly puts us down verbally?

The fact is that human relationships are difficult anyway, but Christians have certain expectations of how other Christians should behave, which makes them, perhaps, more sensitive than non Christians. Very often people are just unaware of the impact their words and actions can have on others. So as Christians we have to be ready to overlook some comments where we feel there is no serious intent to offend. Also we should start from a position of love and always be ready to forgive other Christians if they seem to have a bad attitude towards us. Overlooking and forgiving will probably deal with most of the situations where we feel upset or offended by other Christians.

We should also be careful that our own words and actions, grounded in love, are full of grace and seek to encourage, support and edify our Christian brothers and sisters. Remember the importance of taming the tongue mentioned in James 3:1-10.

But what do we do when there is a pattern of unpleasant and offensive behaviour? While this should only be necessary in a minority of situations, there does come a time when we must confront the offender. Ideally, after careful thought and prayer, making sure we are not just reacting emotionally. The Bible has guidelines for this kind of situation and we need to follow them carefully (Matthew 18:15-17). With goodwill on both sides Christians should be able to resolve their differences for the benefit of themselves and the church they attend.

Our desire and motivation should always be to see the best in the other person, seeking the unity that Christ prayed we would have, recorded in John 17:20 -21. In rare situations two individuals may have to accept that because of their background, education, or personality, they will just never be able to build a good relationship. In that case each must remember that God loves the other person and therefore treat them with respect.

There is a saying that people don’t give offence, but people take offence—is that true? Sometimes but not always, so let’s be careful about both—sensitive to the feelings of others so we don’t give offence, and also very slow to take offence! As Christians let’s always be ready to overlook and forgive differences and only rarely confront others about them when necessary and appropriate.

Prayer
Loving Father, help us to have a gentle, forgiving, grace-filled attitude towards our Christian brothers and sisters, always seeking to encourage the unity that Jesus Christ prayed for, and that is pleasing to you.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Keith Hartrick

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About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LEEDS
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

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