Deuteronomy 34: 1-12
Matthew 18: 15-20
Coming from a family of five, I can still hear my mother’s voice with a sigh of frustration, “Will you all just get along?” A phrase that I am certain we have all heard at one point in our life.
Slowly, as I grow older, I realise that in a perfect world, we live together in harmony, but in reality, we are all broken people who struggle to see eye to eye at times; even in those times, we are simply living our truth in different ways.
Jesus understands our human nature and knows we need tools to handle offences that arise between us, so He provides a rather simple and effective model. A concisely written, time-tested, conflict-resolution strategy.
Too often I and those who I walk with ignore the biblical directive of Matthew 18 and hold onto hurt feelings or anger because of fear. But what might happen if we avoid this hard step towards reconciliation?
- We won’t realise if we misunderstood the other person’s words or intentions.
- We’ll be more likely to talk to others about it, which could lead to gossip.
- We hold onto anger, bitterness or resentment instead of offering forgiveness
- We become preoccupied with the offence and loss our focus on and joy in the Lord.
- We miss the opportunity to restore fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ.
Jesus’ advice or rather specific instruction is directed towards beliefs and should be handled with love and humility. Will it be easy? Probably not, but I’ve witnessed a healed, loving relationship where anger and animosity existed, yet as one individual had the courage to follow this model. I know they would say the result is worth the discomfort it took to get there.
So why does Jesus advise work? It works because of love: we express His love within us when we seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ when they hurt or offended us. You can turn your back on an enemy, but we should always try to restore fellowship with those we love.
Sr Karen Englebretsen CP, Cross and Passion Sisters. blessed to be a spiritual care worker in the homeless sector in Melbourne.