I am a cell leader in my church. One day my old friend came and shared with me the difficulties he was having with his wife.
Because I know them both, I had a few counselling sessions with them. Later I found out that their cell leader (in our church) was very unhappy, complaining to some people that I had usurped his leadership. Did I do the wrong thing?
First let me suggest that you do some self-examination to see if you have really caused any offence.
Could you have unknowingly violated the guidelines in your church’s cell leadership protocol? Some churches have strict rules about cross shepherding among cells. Perhaps you should have consulted your friends’ cell leader before you counselled your friend. This most probably would have prevented the misunderstanding. If so, you may need to apologise to him.
If it is not the case and you feel he was wrong to feel be offended, then Matthew 5:21-24 applies:
“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus says if your brother is offended because of you, even though you feel you have done nothing wrong, you should initiate reconciliation.
You do it for his sake because you do not want him to remain angry and sin.
You may have done the right thing but he has misinterpreted your motive, come to a wrong conclusion and gotten hurt. At this juncture who is right or wrong is not important. What is important is he believes he has been wronged, so it is more important for you to help this hurting brother than to prove that you’re right. It is very difficult for a hurting person to take the first step so it is for the more mature, more senior person who is stronger, humbler and knows better, to take the first step.
No doubt the temptation is to justify your action and even to point out that he should have come to you directly for clarification instead of complaining to others. But Jesus does not want confrontation. He emphasises reconciliation.
The attitude then must not be to confront, condemn, accuse or rebuke but to aim for peace and help him.
The Apostle Paul advised,“Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:10).
Be prepared that he may lash out at you and say all kinds of hurtful things.
Your natural response may be to defend yourself and say something equally hurtful to him. The result would be to stoke the fire further and rouse up more anger. Standing up for yourself and defending your rights will not bring peace or edify him. The way to do it is to die to your flesh, keep your mouth shut and refrain from trying to clarify or justify. Explanations and clarifications may come at a later time. But at the initial encounter, just remain calm, hear him out and then say, “I’m sorry I have hurt you. Please forgive me.” The word “sorry” usually works wonders, pacifying him and bringing about reconciliation.
You can only do what Jesus instructed when your own heart is right and pure. You need God’s supernatural love in your heart.
It helps to remember how God reconciled us to himself: “He demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God reached out to us before we asked for forgiveness. He decided to forgive us even before we acknowledged our offence. So, like God, we must reach out with love, making up our mind that we are going to be reconciled whatever the response. Start praying for him and blessing him. This will change your perception and feelings for him from resentment to compassion.
Do you have an issue you need advice on? Write to Dear Goldie at firstname.lastname@example.org for her godly counsel. Selected questions may be featured in this column. If you leave an email address, you will have your question answered, whether it’s published or not.