5th October 2019

Resolving Disputes

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth or two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.”
Matthew 18:15-17 (NKJV UK)

I remember a lady who harboured an upset for years. This man in the congregation had it in for her. He spread stories about her, he laughed at her behind her back. He was always watching her, to catch her out. Eventually she was heading for a nervous breakdown. When, finally, she sought to do something about it, I suggested she talk to her enemy. “No, she couldn’t do that.” “Not if I come too?” “Oh, no!” So I went to the man on my own. He listened carefully, with open mouth. He knew nothing of her accusations. “I barely know the woman,” he expostulated. I went back to the lady and told her what he had said. “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” And, as far as I know she still remains convinced that he’s ‘out to get her’.

The Bible gives us a formula to handle disputes, as in the header scripture. First, go to your brother alone. I find “We have a problem” is usually a good way to start. Second, if he won’t hear you, take some back-up. “Yes, we agree that this is a problem.” Finally, if the dispute continues, tell it to the church, and let the church arbitrate.

Apart from that particular lady, I have never known a dispute handled this scriptural way to get further than stage one. And in every case, those involved were ever afterwards closer and friendlier with each other than they had been before. I know it seems strange that a 2,000 year-old-book can still retain wisdom concerning the human condition but, as a student of history, I can confirm that the lesson of history is that people haven’t changed. Given the same stimuli they react in exactly the same way.

It is never a good idea to let matters fester. Always, always, seek remedy quickly. Resolve disputes as soon as possible. Remove obstacles which hinder other people as quickly as you can. The ideal is to live peaceably and at peace with our fellows as we journey through this Christian life.

Gracious Father, it is divine to forgive, and very human to harbour grudges. Help us to be more divine than human, ever ready to forgive and forget; to seek to resolve disputes quickly and fairly. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

About the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone: 01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

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