Here’s a question to ask ourselves:
Is my communication helping or hurting this situation?
Is what I’m about to say/write able to bring people up or down?
No, seriously. Ask yourself this whenever you’re tempted to write a volatile email or spread juicy gossip. I know it’s juicy. I know it’s like that itch you MUST scratch. Put another way:
If they were here, would I say this – the same way?
Maybe you would. Maybe you – can I be direct? – struggle with being a jerk. Then there are others, the less aggressive, who find it hard to confront people directly. So we go to others when we’re hurt, seeking sympathy, but instead build walls and tear down other people’s relationships. All to alleviate our own desire for revenge.
Lately I’ve witnessed the major destruction such words bring to relationships, people slandering each other. This is the worst kind of insult: Behind your back, when you are defenseless. As believers in Christ, we need to be mindful of the incredible power of our words. Are you building people up or tearing them down?
Jesus has a word for us in this department. A lot of words. Hang onto your britches!
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ -Matt 18:15-16
Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ -Matt. 18:21-22
If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. -Matt 5:23-24
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. -Matt. 7:1-2
Hatred stires up strife, but love covers all sins. -Prov. 10:12
These wise words teach us this:
- First forgive. I know it’s hard. We’ve all been backstabbed, betrayed, used, abused. But your quality of life hinges on your forgiveness (or lack of). If you want a joyful life, you must forgive; there’s no other option. Take it from one who learned the hard way: Grudges only destroy you and your relationships. If you’re upset with someone, forgive them before approaching them about the issue.
- If someone’s hurt you, GO TO THEM. Don’t tell your boyfriend, sister/ aunt/ mother, or cubemate. Let that person know they hurt you and give them opportunity to explain, apologize or make amends. Has someone ever done this for you? What a relief that they approached you instead of telling half the town or posting angry Facebook statuses! On the flipside, have you ever had someone do the opposite: tell your entire circle but you that you’ve offended them? I have. The result? Division, misplaced anger, mega damage control. People, let’s handle conflict responsibly, like adults. Put your big girl panties on and deal with it head-on.
- If someone else is upset with you, go to them. Do not delay! Waiting simply gives our enemy time to weave division, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and gossip/ slander. God makes it clear He’d rather we reconcile with others than receive our gifts. Reconciliation first; giving second.
- QUIT JUDGING. You are not your neighbor’s judge – GOD IS. If you simply must get something off your chest about someone else, aim it at God. He knows what you’re thinking already, and He’ll likely give you a new perspective. For me He’s made me aware of my own failures (which He’s forgiven me of constantly) or opened my eyes to their viewpoint, the motivation behind their behavior, and His compassion for them. Pray to Him - ask Him to help that person grow in the area of their failure. Ask for His grace to let it go whenever they mess up. Search scripture for similar incidences. It is replete with wisdom on how to treat other people, none involving your vengeance! You will be BLESSED by following this advice!!
If you have a grievance with someone, go to them today. Refuse to talk behind their back. People are more reasonable when you open the door for them to share their feelings and perspective with you. You may gain valuable insight into their heart/ behavior. If they’re unreasonable, take someone else with you. If that doesn’t work, brush it off and move forward; you tried your best.
This works anywhere: Home …. the Workplace …. Church …. Small groups …. Friends. Quit adding fuel to the fire and backbiting/ gossiping. Stop attacking and finger-pointing. Be humble enough to admit your mistakes and give others grace to do the same. If we’d follow this, it would stop untold amounts of drama in our lives!
One last benefit:
A gracious woman attains honor -Prov 11:16
Yes, forgiveness brings you honor! I’m reminded of Taylor Swift’s gracious response to Kanye at last year’s VMAs. Hats off to her for controlling herself when many would have reacted less kindly.
As the Apostle Paul would say, Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And as I would say - Much love. Go spread it around :)