Listening With an Open Heart

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We are all God’s children, and he wishes that we emulate his love in our relationships with each other. Yesterday, we read about the offended individual’s role in conflict resolution. Today, we will discuss the role of the offender. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus discusses the importance of healthy interactions with others and encourages us to be proactive about our altercations with others in order to resolve them.

Matthew 5:23-24
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

From this passage we understand that God wants us to approach those we have offended and not wait for them to come to us. He views these offenses as a sin requiring repentance and resolution before we can come to be united with him. In reality, being proactive is difficult, as it requires that we admit when we have done something wrong or hurt somebody. For this reason, we me sit back and do nothing, hoping it goes away on its own. Other times we may be oblivious to the drama we created in a relationship.

Matthew 18: 15

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”

In this verse we see the words, “if the other person”. The truth is that we sometimes find ourselves in the role of the “other person”. We find ourselves being confronted. So, what are the steps we need to take in order to be part of the real solution?

The first step is to begin with the real win. Remember, it is about restoring the relationship, not defending yourself. The second step is to prepare with teflon. In order to solve the issue at hand, the offender must prepare for a conversation with the offended, which probably won’t be a “quick fix.” As James tells us, “… You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19). With this in mind, the offender should prepare to reflect on constructive criticism, while resisting the urge to be defensive. The next step is to understand their perspective. Don’t defend yours, instead listen to their perspective and speak back to them what you hear them saying. The final step is to respond to their offer. If you were guilty of an offense, confess your sin against them. If you sense they have been hurt by you or someone else, offer them compassion. And finally, perhaps they are actually feeling a sense of shame about themselves and are taking it out on you. If this is the case, you might not have anything to confess. Instead, offer them encouragement and remind them that God loves them.

Most importantly, as offenders, we should always turn to God for guidance on how to improve, as sometimes it is difficult to recognize that we need to change. As Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me” (John 5:30a). Jesus is our example; if he leaned on his Father, so should we.

 

Questions:
Whom have you offended recently? Have you already apologized for your offense? If not, why?

What is your typical response when you are confronted?

Based on Matthew 18:15-17, what can you do better before having a real conversation?

Next Steps:
Pray that God helps you realize when you have offended those around you. Take action to prevent offensive patterns you may have.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you for putting people in my life to love and care for. I pray that I treat them with the same love you show me each day. I ask that you help me remain humble and recognize when I have hurt others as well as guide me to the path of correction. Amen.


This post was written by Sandy Tadros. Sandy enjoys serving as a fill-in writer for the LivingItOut.


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