“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15
What do you do when someone hurts your feelings, or speaks cruelly, or acts inappropriately? Do you shy away, lick your wounds and distance yourself from them? Do you hold a grudge and see them in a negative light? Do you run to another friend, tell all and seek empathy? Or do you go to God, pray for discernment and ask for a forgiving heart? In this passage, Jesus tells us to go to that person, pull them aside to where no one else can hear or see, then talk with them.
Confrontation is hard. Face to face, heartfelt talks are exposing. It opens you up to be emotionally stabbed again. Sort of like turning the other cheek. But there is a loving way to do it. Pointing a finger in anger will only make them put up their defenses. It won’t accomplish much more than further alienating the two of you. What is not stated in this passage, but what I think Jesus would agree is the best course of action, is that before you tell that person, you need to tell Him.
Open up your heart so it can be cleansed of hatred, residual hurts or anxieties about that person and what they have done. Seek the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation and guard your heart. Ask for bold courage to bring the sin out into the light and lead that person back to Christ to be forgiven and healed. As humans become close, we will rub against each other. Relationships reveal warts. One of us will do or say something to offend, even if we are unaware of our doing it. As Christians, we must rise above the emotion and hurt. We must resolve our own issues so we can then participate in the reconciliation – both with our brother or sister, and they with Christ.
And really, wouldn’t we want someone to do the same for us? Wouldn’t we want someone to come to us in love and let us know we’d hurt them? If we are lost, wouldn’t we want a helping hand to lead us back into a right relationship? Isn’t that what we are all here on earth to do?