I am writing this post in the utmost humility. A kind, dear sister approached me with some concerns about my past post, Sticks and Stones. I had talked about the need to work on our pride when someone "offends" us without sinning--not getting invited to lunch with others, having your child left off a birthday party list, not getting a phone call when you were going through that difficult time, etc. I had said that, too often, we build up resentment and feel a need to confront that person about their "error" when we are actually the ones sinning in pride. I sounded very absolute in my post, saying that we rarely need to confront others in instances like this--rather we need to pray about our pride and remember our own mistakes.
Well, this dear person pointed out that there are times to go discuss misunderstandings with others, especially if you have a broken relationship because of it. God never wants disunity or fractions within His church body. Even if you are pridefully hurt by someone who is innocent in motives, if you cannot get over your feelings, you need to approach the person in humility and repentance and tell them how you are feeling.
I was so confused and saw the correctness in both points! I had a talk with our amazing women's leader at Compass Bible Church, Stephanie Schwartz. She did such a great job clarifying this correctly to me. In the end, both points are correct, but my blog--in its focus on one side of this issue--was not correct. I have to ask that you forgive my mistake on that post and read this correction to clarify the issue.
Stephanie gave me some verses to use in my correction, so I am going to post what I have gleaned from her. She starts by offering two verses that speak to our need to forgive others:
Matthew 5:23-24, "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." If you have broken the relationship with feelings of bitterness, then your brother does have something against you that you need to go discuss. Be reconciled to the person with whom you have broken fellowship.
Matthew 6:12-14, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Our standard is clear. Think of how much God has forgiven you and apply that to how you deal with others' infractions. This will put your prideful feelings into perspective.
So, what are we to do when we are offended? First, we are to try and overlook it if there is not a sin that needs admonishment. This is what my first post tried to explain. At times, more bitterness and disagreement are created from a person selfishly telling someone they were hurt by the other person. First, pray and give it time. God wants us to grow in maturity and be able to overlook imperfections. I Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." Proverbs 17:9 agrees, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Stephanie says we often do this easily with our kids or people we admire and love, but we often have trouble with this when we are dealing with spouses or people who often are not the most lovable. This is the first option and is our goal if we can honestly overlook the matter and not feel resentful. This is where I focused my past post, but there is more the Bible says.
Secondly, if we are offended, and we cannot overlook it--someone has sinned against you or you are just not getting over the feelings of resentment, you must talk to the person. Luke 17:3-5 says, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' Remember, if you must confront someone, you need to do so with kindness and respect. If you are feeling vindictive or our of control with anger, you need to pray and calm down before you approach that person. God may be allowing you to not "get over" your feelings of disappointment or resentment because you need to humble yourself and admit your feelings to the other person. It could be a lesson in humility. In fact, Stephanie said an amazing fact about pride: It can make us stay sinfully resentful and cause us to confront others in error AND it can make us afraid of approaching someone who DOES need to be approached and admitting your feelings in a humble and repentant way. (We so want to believe we are above feeling petty and resentful over things like invitations and phone calls, etc.) In addition, the person who hurt you might not know they did at all, and the whole problem (if you can't overlook it) can be solved with a simple discussion and honest approach.
So, the two options are to cover the mistake if you can, and discuss the issue if you cannot get over your feelings and need to repair a broken relationship. I'm glad that this was clarified for me, as I learned some great facts about pride and the need to admit feelings I might not have previously recognized. Thanks to the sister who brought this topic to light for me and to Stephanie, who, as always, graciously imparted Biblical wisdom in a loving and gentle way.