Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


What To Do If Someone Sins Against You: Conclusion

posted by Mark D. Roberts

I have come to the end of this series on what to do if someone sins against you. I have done my best to interpret the teaching of Jesus on this subject with accuracy. I’m sure I have made some mistakes along the way. But I believe I have rightly rendered the basic sense of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus’ basic answer to the question, “What should I do if someone sins against me?” is pretty simple (Matthew 18:15-18). If I were to paraphrase Jesus’ instructions, I’d put them this way:

Go directly to the person who sinned against you and privately point out the fault. Do this with the hope of fostering of reconciliation. If this one-on-one approach doesn’t work, then get help from a few others. If this doesn’t work, let the church help. But always work in the direction of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.”

Though the actual teaching of Jesus is not hard to understand, it is very hard to put into practice. At least that seems to be the case in my experience, both personal and pastoral. Most of us are not comfortable with the idea of going directly and privately to someone who has wronged us. So we do something else, usually gossiping to others or doing nothing at all. Sometimes we piously wait for the “sinner” to approach us: “I’m not going to him because he sinned against me. I’m waiting for him to come and say he’s sorry. Then I’ll consider forgiving.” Sounds typical. Sounds sensible. But it’s not what Jesus told us to do. Not at all. (Photo: The sanctuary of Irvine Presbyterian Church, where I served for sixteen years.)

Sanctuary of Irvine Presbyterian Church

In my experience as a parish pastor, I saw just about every possible way to disobey the plain teaching of Jesus. When church were wronged by others, their first inclination was just to try and ignore it. But if the offense was significant, this feigned ignorance led to a permanently damaged relationship, and therefore a permanently damaged church. Plus, the one who had been wronged was plagued by unhealthful bitterness, while the one who did the wrong had no chance to grow.

Those who found ignoring the offense unsatisfactory would often try to find solace in gossip. They’d tell their friends what happened to them, looking for pity and justification. In other cases, the wronged person would contact the offender, but in some sort of public mode. At times, these confrontations would even take place on the church patio after a worship service. More commonly in recent years, they would be played out in emails copied to lots of other people.

I realize that I’m sounding pretty negative here about my former church. So I should add that I witnessed and participated in many positive examples of putting the teaching of Jesus into practice. Most of the time, however, I never saw this happening because it took place in private, just as it should have.

I should also say, in defense of my former church, that I don’t think we were especially worse than other churches. Irvine Presbyterian Church is a wonderful community of committed disciples of Jesus. I think we were pretty typical when it came to following Matthew 18:15-18. There were many members who did in fact put Jesus’ teaching into practice. But the plain truth is that most of us don’t like direct confrontation with others, so we avoid it like the plague. Let me be honest here and say that I hate confrontation as much and probably more than most people. I dislike going to someone who has wronged me more even more than I dislike hearing from others that I wronged them. But I have felt compelled by the teaching of Jesus to do what does not come naturally to me. Sometimes the result has been unhappy. But in dozens of instances, the outcome of my sheer obedience has been repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

In my next and final post in this series, I’ll share an illustration of this positive result and wrap up with a few final observations.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
J.L. Schafer

posted October 4, 2010 at 8:56 am


Dear Mark,
I want to thank you again for this series. It came at just the right time for me. Because of this series, I purchased your books Dare To Be True and No Holds Barred and gobbled them up. I have learned so many things from you over the last couple of weeks, more than I can explain, that are helping me enormously in my most significant relationships (my wife, my kids, members of my local church, national church leaders, people at my workplace, etc.) I found that so many of my relationships with people were strained and broken because I have not understood and followed Jesus’ teaching on how to deal with conflict. Until now, I have tried my best to avoid conflict, to spiritualize it, to bury it, and so on. From your writings, I have learned that I must acknowledge and identify my hurt feelings, wrestle with them before God, figure out what action to take in light of Jesus’ teaching, take this action with the help and power and the Holy Spirit, and grant and receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Any other way of dealing with interpersonal conflict is sub-Christian, unhelpful and undermining of true fellowship. Your writings on these issues are a model of soundness and clarity. They are helping me to experience God’s healing in my relationships and, as a result, the love of Christ is becoming more real than ever before. I just wanted you to know that someone out here in cyberspace is payimg attention and being blessed through your ministry. God be with you.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mark D. Roberts. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 2:09:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Conclusions
In this series on the death of Jesus, I have presented four different perspectives on why Jesus had to die: Roman, Jewish, Jesus’, and Early Christian. I believe that each of these points of view has merit, and that we cannot fully understand the necessity of Jesus’ death without taking them all

posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever,

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy jewelry to associate the cross with love. But, in the first

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (15:3). Yet this text doesn’t expl

posted 2:30:03am Apr. 07, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.