“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.” the words of jesus in matt.18.15ff. are plain and simple.
but. it’s (so much) easier said than done. it is easier to withdraw from the person who offended you, easier to avoid her/him altogether in church, than confront her/him with the fault, or the wrong done to you.
the possibility of the person not hearing you, or not admitting the fault is very real. in fact, it is the premise of the second step that jesus laid out. “if he does not hear you,” he says.
if you think the process is tedious, cumbersome, or even hazardous; and that not confronting the person at fault is a better option for you; then, you might end up harbouring a grudge against that person.
when this happens, it may cause you to avoid her/him; as seeing her/him reminds you of the wrong that you suffered. this may also cause you to speak grudgingly — or worse, in a slanderous way — about him/her to others or to your friends.
an unresolved conflict of this sort, builds gaps between members. it drives wedges between friends. it destroys church unity, and tears it apart at the seams. sadly, i have seen it rear its ugly head in church.
but what jesus said can — it ought to — be done.
i overheard a man talking to a friend over the phone, he sounded quite upset. “i am offended by what you did,” he said firmly. apparently, the person on the other line promptly apologized, because what i heard next from the man was, “ok, i accept your apology… i love you as my brother.”