So, we’ve all had opportunity to be offended in life. If you haven’t, please don’t wait, send a comment, we all want to know your secret! Our Lord assured us that it wasn’t a matter of if offences would come, but rather when.
“It is impossible, but that offences will come…” Luke 17:1a
Now, you can look in many different translations, and find it the term offences rendered as things that cause people to sin and in my Jewish Bible, it’s rendered a snare. All for good reason, I believe. Giving offence can be done quite on accident (I won’t venture to address the times when it is done on purpose), but how we react to it, that can be an issue of sin, and the offence itself can be a snare of the enemy to get you to respond in a less than godly manner.
So, how do we respond according to Kingdom principles? Jesus laid it out very clearly in Matthew, chapter 18:15-17.
1) Go to the person who has offended you privately, one on one. My Bible stresses privately. Public confrontation is never an appropriate initial reaction, in my opinion. God’s primary goal is the reconciliation of man to Himself, but secondly between men and themselves and finally, men and each other. That cannot happen if we are flying off the wall, constantly exhibiting an attitude of anger rather than an attitude of reconciliation.
2) If he doesn’t receive you, then you are to approach him with one or two others so that “every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If you don’t have the supporting witnesses, it’s best not to confront to begin with. In other words, if you are operating under a spirit of suspicion, and not factual knowledge, because you simple don’t like someone or because they rub you the wrong way, according to the Kingdom, you don’t have a leg to stand on. You must have proof.
3) If proof exists, and the brother/sister still refuses to repent and work towards making restitution then the congregation must be told. This is where it gets difficult for us pastors. We don’t necessarily like to make waves, but again, we must administrate according to Kingdom principles. Quite frankly, ministers are fond of preaching the first two, but are quick to preach the gospel of grace when it comes to enacting the third. However, let me admonish that if we take the definition of grace meaning, “enabling power,” then man, woman of God, you have God’s power to carry out step three!
The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 6, that God’s people should be able to solve problems that arise between brothers and sisters in Christ among themselves. In other words, there shouldn’t be unresolved issues in our midst that cause the world to look at what is transpiring in God’s Kingdom and shaking their heads. Rather, they should be able to look at us as a template for the appropriate way of confronting issues head on and seeing them successfully dealt with.