Friday, February 10, 2012

Deal (2 of 5)

These counsels are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provocative and suggestive. Much more could be said in any given situation. The point is for us to look before we leap; think and pray before we speak. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19). Since you have committed yourself to be a follower of Jesus and His word, and “since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22)

Let’s start with some givens: pretty much everyone has lied, stolen, cheated, gossiped, received gossip, assumed, misspoken, misunderstood, lost our temper, etc. You’ve got the idea. We live in a fallen world and when the world fell, we fell with it―us and our kids. This means that we’re going to do things to others from time-to-time that are not nice and that hurt them. The flipside of this is that others are going to do these kinds of things to us as well. Our children are going to do them to other children and other children are going to do them to our children. This is the human condition, so don’t be surprised. Sometimes, these things are done knowingly or intentionally and sometimes they’re done unwittingly or carelessly. Sin, even unintentional sin, causes pain.

Now if what has happened has caused some significant pain then we’ll need to apply the appropriate first aid. Let’s calm everyone down so we can all think straight; we’re probably going to be ok. A little context and perspective will serve us well. Maybe it happened just the way they said it did and maybe there’s more to the story. Until we know for sure, we just don’t know exactly what happened. The Proverbs are full of good counsel in such matters, but let’s begin here: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Pr. 18:17). Turn the temperature down: “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Pr. 15:18).

It’s important that we not turn a “deal” into a “big deal.” A few casual conversations at the outset (in most cases) can resolve a conflict and enable us to move on. A hasty conclusion is a fallacy that most of us have had the misfortune of delivering or receiving. Too often what starts out as a small deal, turns into a big deal because we got our procedures out of order: shoot, ready, aim. Keep the circle small. Talk only with those who are part of what happened (e.g., if it only involves one person then only talk to one person), unless you need counsel from someone with real wisdom and a record for resolving conflicts. Sometimes, there’s a good explanation for what happened. Many times people will acknowledge their sins or mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and then we can move on. Leave room for the grace of God.

Deal with the deal but do in a way that is gracious. Yes, you might have been sinned against, but Jesus reminds us: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4). This is what families do, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we’re a family.


  1. Mike Pasarilla mpasarilla-at-gmail-dot-comFebruary 10, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Can't emphasize enough the need to keep the circles small. "Unless you need counsel" can be used (and often sadly is used) as justification for going beyond the circle of those involved, raising other problems (it's hard to roll back accounts already spread). "Counsel" must not be used to find support for your side. The goal must be reconciliation, which is a good check on motive - "am I ready to be told I'm wrong?" If the goal is support for your side, then the concern is not for Christ's side, first of all. Txs for reminding us about Prov 18:17. Going outside the small circle presents a one-sided account of whatever the issue may be.