When someone wrongs you, how do you deal with that? Wherever two or more are gathered there will be a dispute before too long, and how disputes are handled is one of the main differences between people of faith and the pagans.
There are two common ways that are harmful to everyone involved. The first is to gossip about the matter. To speak far and wide with people who can do absolutely nothing to resolve the situation, all the time assassinating the character of the person involved. This poisons you and everyone you involve.
The other is avoidance. Avoid the person, avoid the topic, pretend it didn’t happen or that is doesn’t matter.
Avoidance is defined in this sense as “the practice or an instance of keeping away from particular situations, environments, individuals, or things because of either (a) the anticipated negative consequence of such an encounter or (b) anxious or painful feelings associated with them.”
We engage avoidance as a coping strategy, but it almost always leads to increasing stress and anxiety, and has a way of spreading into other areas of our lives. We are speaking of avoidance in the case of a dispute when someone has wronged you, but the same avoidance can easily manifest as procrastination, daydreaming and ruminating, and passive aggression.
This avoidance results in our hearts growing bitter and resentful. Jesus proposes a different path in today’s difficult teaching.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.”
It is from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 18, verse 15.
There is the mark of genius and simplicity, as well as the mark of justice and goodness, in what Jesus is proposing here. The Gospel challenges us to face life head on, not to skirt the truth, not to avoid challenges.
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