I was a little put out. One of my daughters had been one of the only children not invited to a birthday party among a group of my Christian friends. As I shared my irritation with a friend (mistake #1, I might add), she encouraged me to confront the other mother. After all, Matthew 18:15-17 says if we have a grievance we are to go to that person and share our offense.
But I dragged my feet. Was this a Matthew 18 issue? Sure I was upset. Yes, my daughter’s feelings had been hurt. But was this worthy of a confrontation? Had this mother really “sinned against me”?
Matthew 18 has to do with someone sinning against you. It is not about someone not inviting your child to a party, or your fellow committee member not liking your plan, or a friend bypassing you and turning to someone else for advice. It’s not about the coach not giving your child enough playing time or someone buying something you think they can’t afford.
Look, is there a place for some of these conversations? Absolutely. But not in the context of confrontation.
As I contemplated my situation all those years ago, I came to this conclusion about confrontation:
If I can pinpoint how this person has sinned (and therefore offended God) using scripture, then I need to consider biblical confrontation. If not, then it is probably wise to check my own heart and see if I am not the person who is sinning.
For example, going back to that party, I was offended. But why?
Because my daughter wasn’t important enough for the little girl to invite to her birthday party. Was that a sin on her mother’s part?
Nope. Not at all.
No, the sin was on me. My pride had been hurt and I was placing that before a godly relationship with a Christian sister. Oh, working through this didn’t come easy. But I have learned that if I am hurt or offended, it is wise to wait a few days and to spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal the state of my heart.
Now, most of us prefer not to ever confront someone and so we ignore Matthew 18 altogether. Instead we gossip and mark the other person as our “un-friend”. We never give them another chance, but, instead, write them off for life.
But perhaps the same rule applies: Did the person really sin? Or did they simply offend me?
So many broken relationships. So many hurt hearts.
As much as it is up to us, we need to just get over it.
Life isn’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. Let’s move on in life. After all, we ourselves are not without our offensive moments, are we? And if there is sin, well, then we’d better obey scripture and confront in a biblical manner.
All these years later, I don’t think that other mother ever knew the hurt that resulted from that missing invitation. I worked through it and we continued our friendship like it never happened.
I have found this rule to be a great one to follow. But, of course, it only works if you are committed to not holding grudges in your heart. But that’s a subject for another day.