“Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33), and “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9).
If you haven’t apologized to someone within the past two weeks, then you’re probably past due.
Godly problem resolution; the Bible provides no shortage of instruction complete with real-world examples, including many from Jesus’ own mouth, yet it seems like resolving conflict is a common stumbling block for much of the church. I can’t help thinking of what happens when a can of pop gets shaken; the pressure inside mounts, and then the contents explode when the tab opens; that’s me, more often than I care to admit. The fact that I have a temper, doesn’t, in of itself, worry me too much, because I view my temper like any of the other propensities of the flesh, which need to be tempered. But it’s knowing I have this inclination, while time and time again, choosing to sweep conflict under the rug and thus setting myself up like a shaken can of soda, I find quite aggravating. Now, figure into the equation that I tend to be sensitive, and the stage is set for an interpersonal fireworks display, although I am getting better.
Paul chose to avoid an unhealthy situation when he chose not to make “another painful visit” to Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:1). Anytime disputes develop, among believers, the Bible repeatedly charges to make earnest attempts to rectify the conflict, then other times, directs taking a step back as Paul did. There’s much wisdom in sometimes stepping back from a situation, as opposed to insisting that a resolution be reached immediately; the line between concern and control freak gets blurry at times. “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them” (Titus 3:9-10). Time and distance can help clear the way to a clearer perspective conducive for healing; they can also minimize damage these situations can cause by remaining in them. Proverbs 3:5 warns of guarding one’s heart, and in 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul warns Timothy to watch his life and his doctrine closely; a preemptive charge to his young protégé. Read 1 Timothy 4 to find out why the stakes were/are so high.
On the other hand, stepping back isn’t code for turning a blind eye to a problem, as Paul clearly demonstrates in his second letter to the Corinthians. Jesus gave us explicit directions on confronting problems. Christians have a responsibility when wronged by a fellow believer to confront them and seek a peaceful resolution. I suspect the goal here isn’t limited to restitution for the victim, or restoration of a damaged relationship, although both of these are important, godly conflict resolution gives all parties involved an opportunity to grow in their knowledge God; His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, His love. Nowhere does Jesus command us to slap on a big, goofy, fake smile and pretend everything’s alright, because actually taking the time to go through the exercise of working things out might be uncomfortable. No wonder so many congregations are full of people gossiping and talking about one another behind each other’s backs, all the while, harboring ill-will in their hearts—ouch, talk about what a little yeast can do. No wonder Paul didn’t limit his admonishment to the Corinthian man caught sleeping with his father’s wife, and went so far as opening the chapter by rebuking the congregation, “And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” (1 Corinthians 5:2). “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33), and “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9).
I am amazed how often First and Second Corinthians come up in my writing; I wish these books were taught more widely and in greater depth, without all the massaging in order to conform Paul’s words into our modern “Christian” worldview. Satan is cunning; the enemy uses our emotions to cloud our judgement and our pride to deceive us into adopting ungodly marching orders. I go back and forth over the use of the word, “apostasy”, due to the strong connotations the term invokes, but what an apt description for willfully misrepresenting, and abandoning, the Word of God, “willfully” being the qualifier, essentially, because we don’t want to obey. The consequences of adding or subtracting from the Word is grim (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19), for each and every one of us will stand before almighty God and give an account of ourselves to Him (Romans 14:12). Consequently, “Whatever it is”, I say, “Confess it now, while you’re on this side of heaven!”
Paul wrote to the Philippians his confidence that if a person is willing to accept the truth, God will reveal it to them (3:12-16). Likewise, James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Therefore, none of us is without excuse; we got choices. If a fellow believer, or anyone for that matter, accuses me of wrongdoing, regardless of my certainty in my rightness, I better fall to my knees and pray, and if I am the one guilty of wrongdoing, then I better go try to set things right, and then fall to my knees and pray. There’s a whole lot at stake here; so much to gain for accuser and accused alike that I pity all those folks out there who are only ever wrong in theory, but who never seem to be at fault in practice. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’” (James 4:6).
I will close with some godly advice offered by a fellow blogger T. R. Noble:
I had a toxic friendship from middle school leading up into my college years. One day, I read the scripture about pearls being thrown to swine and everything clicked.
My pastor also discussed this. He said one of our pearls is time and some people will continually waste it, over and over. We can’t keep doing the same things. I’ve also realized that enabling people and their toxic ways isn’t being like Christ to them either.
There is a right way and a wrong way in how we relate to others, but Jesus was no doormat. He told the disciples to shake off the dust and move on. If they go one mile go two, but He didn’t say 4 or 40 more miles.
To view her original comments, or to access her blog, click/press the link here to visit Breaking Bread with Judas, and scroll down to the comments section.
Don’t be past due. Don’t let Satan deceive you. Don’t cheat yourself out of an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God. Go! Go and apologize now! Shoot… two weeks… I’m lucky to go two days without needing to apologize to someone.
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