Monday, 3 February 2014

Walking it through or walking away?

A few months ago I met with a old church friend whom I have known for many years. I was having a coffee at his house when he pulled out a photo album filled with pictures of people who we both knew from years past. As we began to reminisce and go through the "where are they now?" routine, it was quite sad to realise that although there were some who had moved on in the purposes of God for their lives, many others had walked away from their church family with unresolved issues, bitterness and bad feeling. Some had gone to other churches without ever attempting to deal with the past, and tragically,  a proportion of the people were no longer walking with God at all.

It is my belief that there are no issues that cannot be walked through and resolved biblically if there is a humility and grace on both sides and a determination not to settle for less than God's best. Jesus gave his disciples a clear instruction to love one another and a clear pattern of how to walk things through and deal with issues. However, the inability or unwillingness of many Christians to deal with offences and differences in a loving and biblical way leads to a division and fragmentation that surely grieves the heart of God. So many people would rather hold unto their hurt and bitterness at the expense of losing a friend, brother or sister. Their own pride standing in the way of peace and unity in the church, and ultimately costing them dearly in their own lives and relationships.

With all this in mind, here are some keys from God's word on resolving issues and staying in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters.

1. Go to them (Matthew 18:15) - Don't text, email, Facebook or phone. Go and see the person and speak to them face to face. Written communications can be misconstrued at times and actually make things worse, because the other person cannot hear the tone of your voice or the expression on your face.

2. Be objective (Proverbs 16:2) - Most people believe they are right, therefore try to see things from the other person's point of view, instead of just standing your ground. There may be issues that you are unaware of could have affected how that other person has behaved.

3. Seek to win the person and not the argument (Proverbs 11:30) - We can often go into a situation with all guns blazing and immediately put the other person on the back foot. You may make them back down because of your manner, but you won't really resolve the situation or resolve the issue. Pray for them before you go to them and treat them with love.

4. Be humble (1 Peter 5:5) - If you have got it wrong or even partially wrong, be quick to admit it and ask for forgiveness. Sorry often is the hardest word, but it can immediately open the door for grace to flow and real resolution to come.

5. Let it go (Mark 11:25) - When the situation is resolved don't keep bringing it up in your own mind, discuss it with others or drag it up again with the person you have had the issue with. Real forgiveness is letting it drop and letting it go once and for all time, just as God did with you. Remember, love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

If you make the decision that you will always seek to resolve issues instead of just walking away and cutting people out of your life you will fulfil the will of the father and the prayer of Jesus (John 17:21)


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