WHAT’S THE PROBLEM

Have you noticed in your own life how difficult it is, when you have a problem with someone, to tell them clearly and specifically what the problem is? It is almost impossible to solve a problem if it isn’t clear what the problem is that we are trying to solve. Even in the home with husbands and wives or with parents and children we too often become frustrated about something that has happened during the day that sets us on edge and then when our spouse or child does something that isn’t really bad at all but a little irritating we go off the deep end to attack them for the mistake. They are wondering the whole time why such a small thing brought on such a huge response, but many times will never really understand what the real problem was. It is the same in the workplace. It is natural in such an environment for there to be disagreements. Honest disagreement may actually lead to a better decision or action for the company. But, most of the time the disagreement isn’t honest. We have such a difficult time stating the real issue that we move around it and argue about something that may not even be related but is an easy target. The situation can’t improve because the real problems aren’t even being dealt with.

Remember Jesus charge to us when someone does something wrong. In Matthew 18:15-17 he said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Notice some extremely important points in this reading that can apply to just about any disagreement. First, go to the person that did the wrong. When we see a wrong done at work or at home or anywhere and we get on social media and tell the world what has happened, it does nothing to solve the problem. The very person that could have changed the whole thing doesn’t even know about it. Even if they read that post, most likely they will not ever think it was about them. Even if they do, the likely response will be anger that you told the world rather than them or frustration that it was handled so poorly. The real test is, do we want to solve the problem or do we just want to complain about it to the world or whoever is listening.

Second, Jesus said when you go to the person to share between you and them the problem, “POINT OUT THE FAULT.” Take a moment to read Revelation chapters 2 and 3 as Jesus wrote letters to the seven churches of Asia. In each letter, he clearly stated the things that were going on in the church that were good and commended them. But he also clearly stated the wrongs being done and demanded they correct them or suffer the consequences. Jesus was never evasive about what was wrong in a person’s life, whether it was Peter who wasn’t minding the things of God or James and John who had the wrong spirit, he clearly told them what was wrong so they could make it right.

Third, notice that if they listen you have gained your brother or sister back. Let’s face the fact that if we followed this teaching to the letter, most problems between brothers and sisters in Christ or even in the home would be solved quickly. We will seldom be moved to the next step if we follow this one to the letter. But it takes courage and clarity to carry this command out. But what a blessing it is when a problem between people is solved and no one else needs to ever hear that the problem existed.

Fourth, notice that if you have to take one or two with you it is “So the matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” It isn’t to pile on but to make certain the person is actually hearing the nature of the problem. Maybe, if they wouldn’t listen to me, it was because I didn’t make the concern clear to them and they couldn’t see themselves doing such a wrong.

Finally, even when the matter is taken to the church it is still on the theme of getting the person to listen. “If they refuse to listen even to the church then treat them as a pagan or tax collector.” It is assumed in all the charges that if you can get the person to listen and see the nature of the problem they will change and turn back to the right way. If a person involved in a wrong just won’t listen, no matter how clear we are in making the statement, then we must move on and let them come to themselves or face the judgment of God.

But, be clear that if they really aren’t told the exact nature of the problem, then we set the whole thing up for failure.

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About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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