Journal Matt 18 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…” Matt 18:15
Observation: It is about fear and communication. What is a “fault?”
Application: This is an issue I constantly deal with: Can I, do I, really recognize a “sin” against me?
Three things I must take in consideration:
- Have I been offended AND is that “offense” a sin against me?
- Do I “overlook” that offense? Is my decision based upon grace or fear?
- If I don’t overlook an offense, is my decision based upon grace (with a focus on reconciliation) or is it arrogance driving my confrontation?
This is tough writing this because my thoughts are bouncing around between my ears. I don’t have a single, overarching answer.
Popping to the top of my mind is that Jesus didn’t say a word:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice is denied him…” (Acts 8:32-33 from Is 53:7)
This is radical for mere mortals. I frequently get offended (with its resulting anger and self-defense) and find myself bubbling over from my internal volcano, wanting to strike out.
Then this also jumps out:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Prov 19:11)
I get the concept of “glory in overlooking a matter”, but now I think of the predicate: Having good sense. Do I have good sense?
“Be honest, open, candid with honorable concern, merciful practice, and with fierce personal transparency” is a reminder I wrote for myself several years ago. It corresponds to dealing with The Face in the Mirror before dealing with others, like taking the log out of my own eye before looking at the speck in someone else’s.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the LOG that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye…” (Matt 7:3-5a)
Further, the scripture is clear and unambiguous: Anger comes because I want my own way:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2a)
Perhaps it is as simple as that: I get angry because I want something and am not getting it. I want something and I stomp my feet like a child. It doesn’t matter what that “something” is, it is my reaction, not in good sense, putting Me first and not in desiring godliness, that matters before the Throne.
Tough words, and I am writing to remind myself above all. One solution? Humble and frequent confession, not with only bearing my soul to another, but with the target of exposing my sin.
Addendum: It has been my experience that just “confessing” to God isn’t enough. All sin committed is first against God and should be confessed and sought forgiveness for. Unfortunately, God isn’t feared enough to make this a horrendous thing to do.
Confessing sin to a man, to a friend, is way more fearful to do…again, unfortunately.
Prayer: Lord God, it is with shame that I confess that I don’t fear You enough. You are God over all creation, and you (the Trinity) made a way to your presence that I don’t deserve to have. That acknowledgment alone is enough to begin to comprehend your fearsome presence.
Help me, make me into the image of the Son.
Ricky Two Shoes