Take the First Step

You’ve been hurt. Somebody has done you wrong. Maybe it is a big deal. Maybe it is something seemingly smaller. What should you do?

You know that somebody in the church is upset with you. They feel hurt by you. They feel like you have wronged them in some way. But maybe you do not think you did anything wrong. What do you do?

I’m not going to make this complicated or flowery. If there is a problem between you and another person in the body of Christ, you take the first step to try to make things right.

Matthew 5:23-24 – 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Jesus tells his followers that they need to be eager to make things right when conflict exists. He even goes so far as to tell them to leave behind a gift, be reconciled, and then return to complete their offering. His point is one of urgency.

So, if you know that a person feels wronged by you, what do you do? First, fight down the feeling of being offended that somebody would dare think that you had wronged them. You probably know that your first reaction, when a person says you have done them wrong, is to be upset that they would dare think so. Let that go. Fight down the urge to go and tell them why they are wrong for thinking you are wrong. Instead, go to them and listen. Go and hear. Perhaps you will find that you are not as perfect as you think. And even if they are wrong, at least you will have done them the kindness of hearing them. Then, if you are wrong, apologize, seek forgiveness, and try to make things right if possible.

But what if you really did not wrong them and cannot agree with their accusation? You can still take the high road. You can still be gentle and gracious. You can still be understanding. You can still tell them that, while you cannot agree with them about how they are feeling, you do care about them and are sad that there is something that has come between you.

What if you are the one wronged? The best thing you can do is take action. Of course, you might need to first evaluate your opinion to see if you have missed anything. But if there is away in which a fellow believer has hurt you, go to them. Do not go angry and accusing. Just go and ask them for a conversation. Ask them to hear what you believe has happened. Do not be shocked if they defend themselves. After all, that is your first reflex too. Get past their defensiveness and let the other person know that you want your relationship with them to be reconciled. Smaller things you can just let go. Larger things may require that the person own what has happened and express repentance.

In both cases, Christian, if you are divided from another believer, if no attempt to solve the problem has been made, you need to take responsibility to take the first step. If you are the one wronged, go and communicate, offering the person forgiveness when they repent. IF you are the one who has wronged another, go and seek their forgiveness. If someone thinks you wronged them, but you do not think you did anything wrong, go and listen, seeking to be at peace with them to the very best of your ability. No, do not lie and pretend you did something you did not do. But be gracious, kind, merciful, and understanding.

At the end of the day, Christian, what we need to recognize is that Scripture calls on mature believers to take responsibility to settle conflict. Decide that you will take the first step instead of waiting for somebody else to do it. The goal is not to win in a conflict. The goal is to glorify Jesus.