This chapter is about when all efforts have been exhausted and the friendly fire keeps coming. We know that by His stripes we are healed, we know that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and His death paid the wages of sin on our behalf, but what else did this accomplish, this silence in the face of great and deep wounds? It also teaches us that wounds of all kinds are part of life in a fallen world and that not every aggression against us needs to be retaliated. Sometimes saying nothing is the right thing even when nothing that was said against us was right or even true! Dear victim of friendly fire, do not let the words of others define you, control you or dictate your actions! Do not allow them to define your outlook on life for if you do, you are surrendering control of your thoughts and emotions instead of gaining control over them. Remember, you are who the Bible says you are in Christ and all other opinions are just that, opinions. Do not compound the pain by returning fire, but meditate on truth, do what is right before God not what defends your dead flesh, and while friendly fire will never be painless, encountering it need not be joyless. God thought you were of such great value that His own Son, who remained silent before His accusers, died on your behalf.
I must pause again and remind you that we are not talking about the kind of verbal spousal abuse or the constant berating of someone whose only intent is to harm and inflict word wounds that often lead to violence. We are talking about those times when self-control was replaced with self-defense and the weapon that caused the wound was words resulting in a broken friendship or an estranged family member. We must, however, recognize; Not all that hurts us is bad for us. There is truth in some criticism and friendly fire that can be of help to us. Don’t let the method of the messenger be the reason you reject the message. This introduces to us the second component of dealing with the wounds of a friend and that is recognizing that not all things that hurt our sins.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘ by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. ’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17
We will mention this again in chapter 8 because the truth is there commonalities in dealing with wounds no matter their nature or cause. The ground-rules for dealing with sin between believers is clearly what is in view here in that when someone sins, contrary to what many say today, a person is to be confronted about the sin, by one person at first, then by two or more spiritually mature believers and then if they will not hear the matter is to be taken to the church leaders. (I do not believe that what is instructed here is telling the matter to the church congregation) If the person still will not hear, meaning heed and repent, they are to be cut off from fellowship from other believers. (remember, these are Jesus words, not mine.) Here is why this is important concerning the issue of dealing with friendly fire, hurts at the hands or words of other believers; Jesus says; If you brother (or sister) sins against you. This is the foundation of the whole process. Not if a fellow believer hurts your feelings, has a personality rub with you, but if a person commits a biblically defined sin against you, the process is to be initiated as Jesus described it.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.