Jun 10 2018 What to do When You are Offended - Plus - How to Have a Good Argument!
10th June 2018
Thank You for the opportunity to be with You and to worship You and to give you the praise You rightly deserve. You are worthy of being loved. I pray our hearts would become more and more Yours. Help us to maintain heart devotion to You. It is easy to allow our hearts to be distracted by so many things throughout the week, but may they be devoted to You. Help us to learn to resolve relational conflict – the world is filled with relational conflict – help us to be completely different.
Matthew 18 is about dealing with relational conflict in the church. The disciples keep asking who is the greatest – a terrible question to ask – but it shows the rivalry that everyone experiences.
My initial experience with Jesus was at OSU – and we lived in a communal type setting – not a commune, but we had a bunch of rental houses near each other and there would be 10-12 people at dinner every night! We would pack those rental houses to make it as cheap as humanly possible! It was a unique experience! But that is all I will say about that for now! There were great relationships, but there were also rivalries that develop. These disciples were with Jesus every day for 3 years. And relational conflicts exploded in their midst as they do in ours.
Jesus talks to the disciples about not being a stumbling block – not injuring or offending another. What do you do if someone offends you?
Matthew 18:15 "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
You have gained or won that brother. When you are offended, the goal or priority is to restore fractured relationships. This is known as the verse on church discipline – and there is a little bit of that in there – but it is ABOUT reconciling relationships - making relationships right. And He tells us how to do that. First – go in private. If you have been offended, or injured, before you do anything else, your responsibility is to go to that person to be reconciled.
Our neighbor was working in the yard – and he was telling about the recent local election – and there was a derogatory sign that was up – he went to the person who put it up – and asked, what happened in your relationship that you would say these bad things – and the other guy replied – oh, I’ve never spoken with him – I don’t know him at all! How do we do that? It has become commonplace to think it is ok - We think it is all right to publish things like this. But it is not. It is never all right. Go – ALONE – and talk to the person who offended you or you have offended.
16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Only AFTER you have gone to the person in private do you involve anyone else
What typically happens – when the person offends us – we try to get people on our side.
You don’t ‘prepare them ahead of time’ – you take them along as witnesses – as innocent bystanders to understand both sides of the story so that every fact can be established within the story. What really happened here? Then if those agree that an offense has taken place and the person has not listened to them – only then do we take it to the church. I am not talking about church discipline today, but the importance of reconciliation.
17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
These verses do not – this is my personal belief – these verses do not apply to CLEAR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY by handling things privately in the church. It is NEVER to be done that way.
There is a prominent seminary – a few years ago a female student brought up a charge of rape – and she was told to not go to the authorities, but that the school would handle it. That president has been fired. Things like this happen, but this passage is not talking about that.
This is about personal offenses that can be dealt with in the church.
Then we have the Peter question – how many times should I forgive? Don’t keep count!
Matthew 18:23"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
He is going to tell them a parable. This is what it looks like to live under the reign and rule of God here and now. This is not a ‘going to heaven’ passage. The kingdom is in your midst, upon you, and near – Jesus said – so this is about us here and now.
24 "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
This is anywhere from a couple hundred million to a billion dollars in our currency today – it was a LOT of money.
25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
This would have been, for numerous people in Jesus’ day – the common experience. They did not have bankruptcy court – one of the primary means of debt repayment was slavery. Wow.
26 "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' 27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
Wow – Hundreds of millions of dollars.
The king, obviously, represents God – and we are the slave.
"But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii (that is a little bit of money – maybe like $100)
and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.'
Look how fast he forgets the grace and forgiveness that was offered to him.
I have found, when we are offended by another, one of the first things we do is forget how much we have offended God. We act and react to that other person’s offense – not knowing or remembering how much God forgives us.
29 "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' (the very words that THIS slave said to the king)
30 "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened
18:32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' 34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
Again, Jesus is emphasizing throughout this chapter the importance of forgiving people. Our motivation and strength to forgive can only come from the cross – understanding and knowing how much God has forgiven us. If we think we are the slave who owes $100 – you are making a big mistake and missing the point of the story – all of our debts to God are enormous – Each one of us owes a great debt to God and He has forgiven it all through the cross. His blood was shed for our sins – and it was all taken away.
It is in knowing that and remembering – that when we are offended, we should first go to the cross. Go to the understating of how Christ’s blood shed for you has forgiven your sins. This will completely and radically change your approach to people who offend you. That is what Jesus is getting at.
Back to Proverbs – we have been looking at wisdom through the Proverbs
Strife and Contention
He doesn’t like these things – an abomination:
16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
Wow – the spreading of strife and contention and division is something God hates and is an abomination to Him. There are overt ways to spread strife – but there are also subtle ways – like when we get someone on our side against another person. Anytime we do that, we are spreading strife.
It is like, we don’t like them, we don’t like what they did – and getting others to believe that too.
A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. (Pro 16:28 NAU)
When we think of someone perverted, we think they have done really gross stuff – and that is spreading of strife – a really gross sin.
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Pro 26:20 ESV) Gossip – talking behind someone’s back – must cease.
Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. (Pro 26:21 NAU)
One given to anger stirs up strife, and the hothead causes much transgression. (Pro 29:22 NRS)
Anger is a natural emotion – it is not evil or good. The emotion itself. But it can quickly move to evil. It is an emotion that is really quick.
Paul said – be angry and do not sin – so there is a way to do that. But anger is hard to control and it is quick to launch itself into evil.
James – quick to hear; slow to speak; slow to anger. Anger that moves quickly is always anger that moves to sin. Any time in anger you speak quickly or act quickly – you can bet sin is following.
Let me say – this does not relate to self-preservation or the protection of another. If your kid is running out toward the street – you don’t just say – Oh darling, a car cometh, please stoppeth – You YELL!
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. (Pro 18:19 NLT)
I have found, and you have too, it is very easy to offend when arguing our position or point of view. It is easy to offend. We have to be careful. I think many of the offenses in our culture come from people arguing their point of view. We have to be careful - whether it is a theological argument, the volume of music, or the color of carpet – whatever it is, we have to be careful in how we express our point of view. How we argue our case – because it is just too easy to offend.
Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own. (Pro 26:17 TNIV)
In one little warning – don’t take up another’s cause too quickly. Help the person go talk to the person they need to talk to – don’t pick up their cause. Because one person tells their story until another comes and tells their side of it. And it can be like they weren’t even in the same room.
In any situation where two people are in a relationship, there will be disagreements. When you get 100 people in a community – just multiply the disagreements.
I want to talk about how to disagree well – how to have a healthy argument – how to have a good fight – there are just points:
Discuss the conflict as soon as possible.
Conflict ignored does not go away – it grows until it solidifies in our souls and becomes part of us. All of us know of conflicts we didn’t deal with that just festered – and became more and more unhealthy until it had to be dealt with and everything breaks loose.
Remember you are teammates not adversaries.
This is really important in marriage. When raising young children, when there are disagreements – remember that you are teammates in this – you are not adversaries.
Listen and clarify – don’t just make your point known. There is a time for that, but we must listen to understand the other person’s point in the conflict. I was talking with my pastor friend, Dave. Do you ask clarifying questions, Mike? When someone shares with you – do you ask – here is what I am hearing you say – or what are you hearing me say? What I have found – I am giving sermons. What I have found – people come up to me after a sermon and say they got one thing out of the sermon – and another will tell me something completely the opposite – and I’m not sure I said either! But the same thing happens in relationships. We know what we are saying – but that doesn’t mean that they are hearing or that you are communicating clearly.
Never assume silence is agreement. In fact, it is best to assume that silence is DISagreement. It can be good to say – do you need some time to think about that? Or conversely – at times when listening – to say - I need a little time to think about that!
Have realistic expectations in a conflict.
All conflicts take compromise. You will not get out of it what you think you should but there are just times when you will have to compromise.
Avoid statements like “you always” or “you never”.
I was going to say – ALWAYS avoid it… but then I’d be doing it. It is not helpful – no one ‘always’ and no one ‘never’s!
Never devalue another's feelings.
This is another hard one. When someone is hurt – to say – you shouldn’t feel that way –
Always validate a person’s feelings. Those are those person’s feelings! It is not your business what their feelings are. You may feel differently and that is okay.
Be very slow to defend yourself.
Our tendency is to immediately defend ourselves. Before we launch into our defense – let me hear. I am not saying to not ever defend ourselves.
Fight about one thing at a time.
It can go in a million directions – and everything is on the table – but focus on one thing at a time.
Don’t try to change the other person.
Only they (and only you) can choose your responses and behavior. Leave it between them and God. We can point them to understand our perspective, but only they can choose their responses and behavior.
Speak clearly and specifically.
Say what you mean to say. Sometimes we are afraid and unwilling to just say it – and sometimes we just need to do that.
Avoid personal insults and character assassination.
- - Like ‘you’re mean’ (only it is usually much worse than that, but we'll stop there.)– it is never helpful to insult or assassinate character.
Make restoration the goal.
The goal is not to win the argument. The problem – we live in a world where everyone thinks they are supposed to win the argument. And that is why we have so many arguments, because everyone believes they are right.
In a disagreement – no one person sees every aspect of the disagreement with clarity and truth.
I see this in theological and church issue disagreements – there are those who think they are the gatekeepers of Christian theology and truth. And they just aren’t. I read them all - For every one who thinks they have the answer – there are twelve others who are good Christians who hold opposing views. It is sad. We become adversaries in the church and they look on and don’t want to have anything to do with it.
“Their beliefs must be pretty worthless if they can’t love one another.”
Lord, help us in our relationships – we ask that You would teach us how to reconcile conflict in ways that are pleasing to You.