I would venture to say that our culture is largely based on competition and gossip, i.e. the idle talk or rumor of the personal affairs of another. Therefore, we have bred a society in which we turn to anyone [and everyone] to vent about an issue as opposed to going to the source. This is something that I see as a downfall of mine at times. It seems more simple to vent about “Susie” to my husband instead of going to her and admitting that what she said or did hurt me.
The gospel of Matthew says “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
The word trespass in this portion of scripture simply means to miss the mark, to err, to offend or cause division. This has happened to all of us at one point or another. Our friend, family member, co-worker or a passerby has said or done something that missed the mark of what we expected of them. We seem to instantly take this to heart and begin to mull over the offense, which widens the division initially caused. Despite the fact that Christ is very clear about the proper order of things, we tend to do what comes most comfortably.
To avoid any confusion, I am speaking this to myself first. Saying, “hey Crystal, remember that Christ said to go to that person FIRST so that they could hear and understand your heart in the matter and you would gain them back into your life?” Out of division and into unity and harmony again. I love that, in Him, there is a perfect order for everything. [note that He even states what other actions to take if going directly to the source doesn’t work]
I see that Matthew Henry says, “If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too much neglected by all. But how few try the method which Christ has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too highly prize the promises of God.”
And goes further to state, “We do not forgive our offending brother aright, if we do not forgive from the heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be condemned, who, though they bear the Christian name, persist in unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for forgiveness from him.”
All in all, my time in the Word today was largely focused on this principle. It is one that many, both in the Church and out, struggle with. We must first see that Christ spoke this order, therefore we should adhere. We must then know the freedom from fear of speaking our heart to a brother, sister, mother, acquaintance. Once this occurs, unity among brethren will prevail.