“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.”
Alan’s dog had a habit of barking when the family was away. Of course, they didn’t know it because they weren’t there. They found out when the police showed up at their door saying that a neighbor had complained. Alan was shocked and a bit hurt. He was sorry that his dog was causing an annoyance in the neighborhood, but he was also upset that his neighbor hadn’t just talked to him directly instead of calling the police. He went to talk to his neighbor and explained why he would have appreciated the direct contact and that he was sorry for the noise his dog was making. And his neighbor understood, even appreciated the conversation.
Our text from Matthew 18 has been a foundational principle for dealing with conflict. If you have a problem with someone, go and talk to them about it first before including other people. It seems pretty basic. But it is also a foundational principle in community. Making a public complaint or using gossip or backstabbing will bring about mistrust and break community. On the other hand, directly addressing issues in a spirit of godly wisdom and love is a positive way of dealing with conflict.
Conflicts will arise. Managing them directly and in a timely way is an important part of community. Is there anyone with whom you need to discuss a conflict? Dealing with that has the potential to make your community even stronger.
Father, help us deal with conflicts wisely, and bring us into stronger relationships as a result. Amen.
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