Jesus had the most remarkable, transparent way of navigating tough relational situations. First, He taught that when we have serious issues or problems with people, we are to talk with them about it. He also knew what it was like for people to have problems with Him, feeling threatened by His popularity or His ideals.
Jesus used such wisdom, grace, truth and love in the midst of these scenarios. I only wish I had more of His forthrightness when it comes to sharing my concerns directly with others. I also wish I was better at avoiding the internal struggles that come when someone doesn’t like you or care for you—or when someone actively has sought to discredit you!
Just across the shore from Manhattan on July 11, 1804, there was an early-morning duel between the former secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and the sitting vice president, Aaron Burr. They had a long-running political and personal rivalry, and they attempted to resolve it in the manner of the day: through a duel. This particular event hastened a federal law that ultimately ended duels, after Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton. The tragedy is magnified by the fact that Hamilton’s son had previously been killed in another duel.
Why is it that we try every way but the righteous way to resolve conflict? Most people seem to be conflict-adverse. They avoid addressing it at all costs. People will risk their lives, to the point of a duel, rather than work together to settle their differences.
Today, the weapons of choice may be more subtle, but they are just as destructive. The result is the possibility of undermining a person’s reputation or even being party to divisiveness—one of the seven things God says He hates (Proverbs 6).
I’m going to be bold here: if you haven’t gone to the people with whom you have concerns, then you shouldn’t talk about them! Matthew 18 provides a very clear road map for reconciling issues: first go privately to the person who has offended you. If he or she does not listen, then take someone with you, and then, only if necessary, make it a church matter. But for Jesus’ sake, work toward a resolution! If you have been talking about someone rather than to them, now is a good time to alter your actions. You may just gain a brother or sister—and you certainly will have thwarted the enemy’s plan. Excuse me, but I just remembered—there’s someone I need to call…
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” -Psalm 133:1-3 (KJV)
By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor