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Offenses Left Unchecked Lead to Festering Pain

In today’s day and age, everything is considered politically incorrect. It seems everyone is in disagreement as well as disregarding the feelings or opinions of others. Many people also appear to be putting their views above the undisputed and proven, word of God. Because of the lack of concern for another’s feelings many people have taken it upon themselves to release offensive attacks on anyone who disagrees with them. This type of behavior has caused many too “go underground” with their feelings. In other words, many who know that it is not good to get involved in vain arguments and disputes, have simply shut their mouths and stuff their feelings. This kind of repressive reaction leads to a multitude of emotions being repressed in our own strength, which eventually will explode!

Jesus warned, So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Lk 17:3 NIV

It can be challenging for some people to confront an offense, yet Jesus told us to do that very thing. He knew that offenses left unchecked would eventually burrow into our hearts and cause a festering, infectious effect and lead to an explosion of all sorts of emotions. Didn't Jesus also say to turn the other cheek? Yes, Jesus said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt 5:38-39 KJV

Jesus is telling us not to take our right to be right in the form of revenge. We are not to avenge ourselves. The Lord says that “vengeance is Mine (Rom 12).” Because of guilt and a desire to please the Lord, Christians often get caught up in these two mindsets; rebuke them or turn the other cheek. Both of these things are hard to do when we are unsure of the answer. Confusion often sets in even for those who know the word. This confusion can come from emotions of fear, insecurity, and rejection, all of which can keep us from being honest with one another. On the opposite side of this, a person may be prideful and take liberties with the Scriptures to rebuke another at every opportunity.

We please God when we are obedient to Him. If a fellow believer sins against us we are told to rebuke and forgive. Rebuke suggests the idea of warning the fellow believer, with mildness and not as an enemy, of their wrongdoing. We are to counsel each other against corrupt practices and advise them of the right way.

[As] iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. - Pro 27:17 NKJV

Far too often Christians refuse to help each other become better people through rebuke. It is not a dirty word to confront something or someone if when doing so it will benefit the whole. How can a person grow in maturity and the Lord if every time they walk in a different direction than the Lord has called us, it is ignored? We are to be disciples of the word of God, and in our learning, we are to help each other by using the word gently to lead another back to righteousness.

All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2Ti 3:16-17 NKJV

Offenses stunt the equipping for good works. Reproof means to test and approve while correction means to restore to an upright or a right state. If a brother or sister in the Lord sins against us through and offense we must be mature enough to have the hard discussion, and if we offend another, we must be willing to receive a rebuke. If done in love we will be restored to a right state and be all the better for it.

Of course, to rebuke another or receive criticism it is essential to know what a sin or offense is. If we are easily offended, then it could be anything, but if we have our hearts set right with God then we won’t likely be hurt for no reason.

The Greek word translated for sin is hamartia, and it has various meanings; to err, be mistaken, to miss the mark, and to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor or to do or go wrong. Webster’s defines offense as displeasure, anger, scandal, and cause of stumbling. Any transgression of the law, divine or human; crime; sin; or act of wickedness or omission of duty. We can see by these definitions that our intent could mistake someone or someone could do harm to us or dishonor us in various ways.

“Turn the other cheek,” or “rebuke them”

So how do we overcome offense and in which way do we do it? “Turn the other cheek,” or “rebuke them.” The best way to determine the answer to this is through prayer, ask God to give you a heart for the one who has offended you. Remember that they are also a son or daughter of God and bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. When we do this, it aligns us with the heart of God and gets our flesh out of the way. After we spend some time with the Lord in discussing the offense, we then must spend time listening for His response. I have found that God may take too long to give me direction, so I go forth without His blessing and make a decision which often leads to a flesh-driven response on both sides. On the other side I have waited to respond and found myself no longer offended and was able to go forth in the relationship without incident. It depends on your personality. I’m a processor and like to do so with someone before I approach conflict, this is partly because of the fear of the Lord in me that doesn’t want to make a wrong choice and partly because I don’t really want to deal with the situation. It is sometimes easier to bury our heads in the sand and ignore every form of conflict; eventually, this will explode.

Jesus dealt with conflict in different ways, depending on who the people were and what the issue was. When Judas was about to betray Him, Jesus told him to go quickly and do what he needed to do. When He confronted the Pharisees, Jesus was heard calling them hypocrites and a brood of vipers and at one time even made a whip and turned the tables over in the temple courts and drove out the money changers (Lk 20). Another way Jesus handled conflict was to walk away (Lk 4).

Since we know that Jesus said He only did as the Father told Him to do it would be safe to conclude that Jesus asked God how to handle each situation. It is also likely that because Jesus spent so much time with the Father that He had acquired the Father’s wisdom and some things He simply knew how to handle. Wisdom comes from seeking the Lord. Wisdom brings resolve in a godly manner even when it doesn’t look like it worked out in the end.

The next time you are given an opportunity to rebuke a brother or sister, pray, forgive, seek wisdom, listen, and obey. If you do what you are told to do, then you are not responsible for the outcome of the other person's response or reaction. They too must seek God for the appropriate response as well. Remember the words of Jesus to His disciples; “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” Matt 10:16 MSG

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