Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Say NO to footholds! (oh, and Donny Osmond...)

(OK, OK, I know I'm overdue for another post when the comments turn to Donny Osmond...)

The concepts of conflict resolution, annoyance resolution and gossip have really been weighing on my mind lately.

Let's get some scriptural background first:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24)

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. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matt. 18:15-17)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:14-18)

Let me ask you, when you are upset with someone, do you first:
A ) Talk to your friends about it
B ) Keep it inside, but hope you can avoid that person in the future
C ) Go talk to the person and let them know what upset you

How about when you know someone is upset with you, do you:
A ) Talk to your friends about it
B ) Figure it's their own problem and they can just get over it
C ) Go talk to the person and see if you can make things right

Does every grievance need to be aired? No. There are some things that annoy each of us that we just need to get over. We as humans can be far too touchy at times. Not everyone is out to get us, and we all do small things which offend each other from time to time. Let's be more skilled in the area of giving grace, for we all need it ourselves on occasion.

But, if something is bothering you enough that you feel the need to say something about it to someone, your responsibility as a disciple of Christ is to handle it in the way he commanded you to - the "someone" you talk to about it should be the one with whom there is the disagreement or annoyance.

Friends, if you are doing anything other than C in the questions above, YOU are the one with the problem. I don't care what the other person did to you, you are still equally in the wrong.

(Let me make clear that I have nothing against those who feel the need to seek wise, godly counsel regarding how to address the situation with the person. There is a world of difference between that and gossip / slander. It is the difference between those who want and intend to do the right thing and those who simply want to make themselves feel better by tearing down the other person, with no intentions of ever confronting the person directly in humility.)

I know this strikes fear into the hearts of people. It seems so much easier to just gripe about the person to our friends, who will most likely agree with us and then we can make jokes about that person together and feel good about ourselves again. Other times, it seems so much easier to just ignore the issue and try to avoid that person so you don't have to deal with your own anger and hatefulness, and so you aren't bothered with that whole issue of forgiveness.

For a lot of us, our default setting is "conflict avoidance".

The truth, however, is that the easiest thing to do is to simply go directly to the person you have the issue with. Most often, you will be able to correct some misunderstandings, work out some differences, or, at worst, be able to agree to disagree, and viola, you have "won your brother"! You no longer have to avoid him, you no longer feel the need to cut him down in your conversations. You are free! The load is lifted, you can sleep at night, and your blood pressure can go back to the normal range. The sooner you can do that, the better. I seem to remember something about not letting the sun go down on your anger, and not giving the devil a foothold, don't you?

Now, I don't want to ignore reality. Some situations and relationships may not be able to be repaired that easily. That's why Paul says, "As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." You may make every effort at reconciliation yet , for whatever reason, it is not received. Perhaps that person refuses to forgive. Perhaps that person refuses to change their behavior to stop hurting you and others. That is out of your control. That does not "depend on you". At some point, you may need to shake the dust of your sandles (so to speak) and leave that relationship. However, that should be the exception, not the rule. If you find yourself constantly cutting ties with people over issues that cannot be resolved, it is time to take a deep look inside yourself, for most likely YOU are the problem.

Why am I ranting about this?

Because I have seen Jesus' way work time and time again, and it is so freeing in a person's life.

I am tired of seeing people choose to live tortured by anger, resentment, and bitterness rather than making an attempt to work things out with someone else.

I am tired of bunco nights where the topic of conversation is gossip about those who are not in attendance.

I am tired of simple misunderstandings causing so much strife in the lives of people I love.

And, most of all, I am tired of anonymous letters filled with hateful comments written by cowards who claim to be disciples but do not follow the way the Master laid out to address your issues with someone.

Let's stop giving the devil a foothold. Who do you need to talk to...today?


Anonymous said...

Thanks Shane- very good. I would call what you said here prophetic preaching as opposed to ranting. Keep preaching.

Danna said...

I needed to hear this. Thanks.

Linda L said...

You are right on, Shane. I try not to get involved with that stuff, but I don't always succeed. I hope this means you will come to me if you ever have a problem with me ;o) I appreciate your willingness to remind us of this pitfall that we like to sweep under the rug. I'll be praying for the person who is not brave enough to talk to you about their "issues". I think you're doing a great job!

preacherman said...

I believe that many Christians have the problem of controling the tongue. I have seen many Christians, especially leaders in the church, entire families destroyed by "Christians" who did not control their anger and tongue. As believers we need to understand the fact that the Lord hates division. He hates it when Christians destroy instead of encouraging and build up one another. He hates it when we don't control our tongues and hurt others. I believe as believers we need to understand that God is going to judge us on how we treat his bride. I know that in countless churches across America the bride is getting beaten and battered. I love the way and I amen it when you say, "Let us not give the devil a foothold." Shane thank you for this great post. Keep up the great job you do with your blog.

Hannah said...

Wow! thanks shane...ur very insightfull. I love the way the Lord slpeaks through you. I must admit i'm guilty of acting in a way other than C. Thanks for the reminder, I shall be more aware of my actions and I'll try to ammend my past mistakes regarding gossiping or confronting.
love you!

Brenda said...

I have found that by putting this into practice and obeying God, I have come to know a new sense of peace. It is so hard to point out faults to our brothers or sisters when you are hurt. So many times I have been willing to take on the hurt just so that I don't hurt someone else by letting them know they hurt me and yes...this is a vicious cycle that Satan wants us to get tied up in.
When I put into practice God's word and teachings on this, I find peace, I find joy, and I find freedom! I find acceptace from the only one that matters, and that is the Father. If you can't be at peace with yourself, then you can't live at peace with others.
There is a reason we follow these and although I still have a LONG way to go, I love the peace that God gives me when I choose to go this route!
Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. Gotta be one of my all time favorite post! Keep em' comin!

Mike Morton said...

Leave it to me to say this...

... SO where does Donny Osmond come into this? :-P

Brenda said...

I do believe that Shane might be saying that he needs to talk to brother Donny bout somethin! ;o)

Shane Coffman said...

Mike - Check out the last comment fromt he previous post and it will make sense.

Brenda - Yes, I need to have a talk with him about wearing more than a loin cloth if he is going to make a video. My corneas are still burning.

Mike Morton said...

Oh... Got it now. Guess I was a post behind. :-O