How to be a Peacemaker (3)

We cannot avoid conflict and hurt, but we can seek to conquer bitterness and estrangement. When someone offends us, what should we do? After checking our attitudes and beginning to act as Jesus commanded in the Sermon on the Mount, we need to go to the person with whom we are angry in honest confrontation. Speaking through Moses, God said, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor… You shall not bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:17-18). Paul reflected this approach when he taught (quoting Psalm 4:4), “’Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath“ (Ephesians 4:26). In other words, we must not bury our anger in our heart, where it will become a grudge, then bitterness, then hatred. When we cannot get over an offense through prayer and self-examination, then we must speak frankly with the one who offended us. To speak is to love; to keep silent is to foster enmity. Here we need to avoid two errors. On the one hand, we should not go to anyone else (as we often do!). No, as Jesus taught in another place, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). If he will not hear us, then we should take one or two others with us to try to become reconciled with him. Under no circumstances should we first slander him behind his back. The other thing to avoid is pride. “If a man is overtaken [caught] in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). In our rebuke, we need to speak with humility, knowing that we, too, have offended God countless times. If we only followed these simple guidelines, how much heartache could be prevented!