These are seven ideas for your meditation in the following week. I suggest you use them as a springboard for examining the people and situations of your own life by reflecting on them, writing down your thoughts, or talking them over with someone.
- The forgiveness that Christ has given us is the root of the forgiveness and grace we extend to others. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” Ephesians 4:2. In what situation in your life do you need to remind yourself of the forgiveness you have received?
- When approaching someone who is in the wrong, our goal is not simply to defend ourselves or to defend the truth, but to be faithful to them as well. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” Proverbs 27:6. How can we be faithful while giving wounds?
- Anger causes us to do foolish things, even when we are in the right. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools” Ecclesiastes 7:9. Where does quick anger come from? And what is its antidote?
- We should not be going to people with all their flaws, telling them all the things we think they should change. “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” Proverbs 19:11. When is overlooking an offense the right thing to do?
- Direct communication is preferable. It avoids unnecessary embarrassment, minimizes defensiveness, and opens the best opportunity for reconciliation. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” Matthew 18:15-17. When are the times you are most likely to talk behind someone’s back instead of talking to them directly?
- Direct communication is the goal, but in some situations there are additional considerations. “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” Psalm 82:3-4. Can you think of times when someone who has been wronged should not go alone to speak directly to the person who wronged him or her?
- Honest conversation with someone who has hurt us is always hard. It’s easy to focus on their flaws and the injustice and forget completely about the person who is in the wrong, but we are never to stop treating others with love. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a. How can this kind of love be shown in the midst of conflict?