1 Peter 4:8 says, "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." But then Psalm 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
So, are we supposed to cover or confront?
As always, our first step is to center ourselves in the Lord. If our heart is not toward another person, we must start there. When we remind ourselves of God's great love and patience towards us, then we are ready to ask if we are supposed to cover or confront when we have concerns.
When we come to the place where our heart is truly for them, and not just angered by what they did, we are ready to ask the four questions Pastor Matt gave us to start with:
- "Is it a sin against me?" Consider the triggering incident and ask yourself if you have taken an offense for another.
- "Is it a pattern?" Was the person just having a bad day, or has the behavior or wording happened before?
- "Was trust broken?" Did the offense shake what I thought we had relationally before it happened?
- "Do I value the relationship?" Is it a relationship worth investing in?
After stilling your heart and asking yourself these questions, next, it's time to ask God how to move forward and obey the prompting in your heart.
Romans 12:2 tells us, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
If, after seeking the Lord, you feel you need to talk to the person, Jesus tells us how to move forward in Matthew 18:15-16: "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. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses."
Often, I think we do this in reverse — we talk to two or three others first, and then, maybe, we talk to the person (It's considerably easier to talk about someone than to them).
When we are ready to live the way Jesus calls us, here are a few of steps and phrases that could help:
- Ask permission to talk to them.
- Be clear about what happened and how you felt.
- Share the story you have been telling yourself.
- Let them know you value the relationship enough to want to work through it.
- Ask them for a response.
If you can share succinctly and without judging, the other person is more likely to share what happened from their side, and many times the relationship can grow even closer than if the incident never happened. That's how our Redeemer God likes to work things!
What if believers walked in a way that was different than the world?
What if we talked to people instead of about them?
What if we had close and clear relationships with others in the family of believers?
What if we lived and believed Jesus's prayer in John 17:20-23?
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
God, help us to love others as you have loved us! May we be known as different and attractive to the world around us because of our unity. Guard us against division, impatience, and gossip and help us walk the path you have laid out for us!