Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 6 – Dealing With Painful Offenses

“Do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?  Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.”  Proverbs 25:8-10

Devotional Thought For The Day

Anger, irritation, indignation, and perhaps even malingering malice, compel us to react and respond to perceived “wrongs” and “slights” without giving a matter proper reflection.  It is a rare person who can respond to insults and indignities in a calm, sane, and rational manner.  The anger requires and compels us to react, to strike back, and the anger also stirs up our minds so that we cannot think and respond cogently, reasonably, and lovingly.  Mom’s old advice about counting to ten needs to be taken seriously – and sometimes the count needs to be ten days or even ten weeks [or maybe even ten months or years – so long as the anger isn’t festering and growing that whole time]!

The advice of the proverb is to avoid court – especially if there is any possibility that you have judged wrongly, that you have not properly considered all of the circumstances, that you may have blinded yourself to your own wrongs, that you may have exaggerated aspects of the perceived wrong, that the “offense” is not nearly as grievous as you think.  In any of these circumstances, you may well end up being the one embarrassed in the case – and this will feel like someone has added illness to your injury; but in fact it is self-inflicted because you allowed your emotions to get the better of you, and you were proceeding out of malice rather than love.

Rather, we are encouraged to approach difficult matters directly with our neighbor – to try to come to agreement with him about what has happened.  The goal is to retain the friendship as well as clearing the air.  After all, we all need forgiveness and forgiveness is the only effective glue that keeps relationships together.  The hurt from the wrong is not what really matters – but rather the good of the perpetrator, that he repent and be forgiven and restored to friendship and amity.  The Lord’s wisdom and instruction in these kinds of circumstances should be taken literally and seriously [see Matthew 18:15-18].

AND the matter is to be kept private – even when the brother was in the wrong, for God has given commandment regarding the compulsion of real and genuine love to protect and enhance the reputation of others. If we are gossips and slanderers – even if we feel ever so justified in publicizing some case – this brings shame upon ourselves, so that we may never escape the ill-repute of being malicious and hateful destroyers of the reputation and good name of others.  When we do this, our own sin is at least as egregious as anything someone else may have done to us – and rather than gaining relief and comfort we actually bring even greater shame and ignominy upon ourselves.

The place to begin healing and sanity is with ourselves – in dealing with our own anger, resentment, pain, and indignation.  These must be controlled for the sake of good; if we are controlled by them only greater evil will ensue.  The most effective dynamic in this is a proper life of repentance – understanding the disgusting and damnable nature of our own sin, and remembering how Christ’s blood was shed to bring us forgiveness and cleansing.  In the joy of God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness it begins to make more sense to us that we should love others and forgive them, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us and continues to love us.  When our concern is for our neighbor rather than our anger, it is far more likely that we will be able to avoid greater evil, even if the neighbor is unreasonable.  At least we will not be the cause of greater animosity and shame.

Scripture Cited

Matt. 18:15-18  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive us for our anger and malice, and our lack of love and compassion for others when they fall into sin against us. Soften and warm our hearts and minds through Your gracious forgiveness and love, that we be more concerned for others than ourselves.  Preserve us from the evil and the ill-repute of being gossips and slanderers.  Help us to love as You have loved us.  Amen.