Let me continue where I left off about how to overcome any offense.
How many times has this happened.
A confrontation occurs between two (or more) individuals. One person (let’s say Sarah) is offended by (Kristina) and goes to a third party (Robert) who wasn’t there to tell them what happened. Sarah repeats the story to Robert, but she does it in such a way that emphasizes her hurt. She evens tell the truth of what Kristina said or did, but she also leaves out pieces of the situation that doesn’t justify her offense.
The innocent third party Robert who is just being a friend and lending a listening ear then becomes offended too. He becomes angry at Kristina who is not there to defend herself. He can no longer relate to Kristina who was painted to be the offender. The story has been told. The damage has been done. The offense has spread, all while only one side of a story has been told.
When a person destroys our confidence in others especially leaders, it is never as innocent as it seems. It is not just about a person seeking relief. It’s about one person wanting you to feel the way they feel about a person. It’s about a person drawing you into their offense. It’s about a person wanting you to reassure them of their excuse to feel angry, offended and unforgiving. The Book of Proverbial Wisdom calls a person like this a talebearer. Here’s what it says:
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.”
Proverbs 26:22, 24-25 KJV
Something gets wounded in us when we hear the words of a talebearer. Our heart changes and we cannot trust and love in the same way we previously could! I am convinced that many powerful churches, organizations, businesses, families and even marriages GO DOWN in flames by talebearers. At the root, a talebearer’s motive is not love but hatred. No matter how kind they come to you or how innocent of a conversation it may be, beware of the motives. Ask the question why are you telling me this?
I have heard stories come back to me about me that were so far from the truth that I would hate me too if I didn’t know me! In ministry, leaders and ministers are easy targets because we enter into people’s emotional & relational crossfire. We deal with people who are in sin and in sensitive moments of their lives. If things don’t go the way they expect it to, we are sitting ducks for a talebearers story. And people listening are like sheep led to the slaughter!
This is where you as the one that has nothing to do with it assume responsibility as to what tale you allow people to bring to your ears. You have to realize that passively listening to slanderous gossip, speech that is corruptive of another person’s character is just as bad as the gossip itself!
When someone comes to you with their own conflict and discontentment of another, here’s the first thing you need to encourage them to do…GO TALK TO THE PERSON WHO OFFENDED YOU!
“Moreover if your brother (offend thee), go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Matthew 18:15-17 KJV
Here is Jesus again with very clear and practical instructions. This is not an analogy or parable. If anyone offends you, go directly to them and tell them. This is how you protect yourself or another person from being a talebearer. And the Apostle Paul shares this insight:
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1 KJV
Don’t try to play restorer to an offended one if you yourself don’t have the experience to handle the situation coming to you. Their words can become a temptation to you to sin if you’re not cautious. Being spiritual is not being deep or opinionated. It’s being scriptural. The most loving thing you can do is help a person abide by the word. Jesus told us to do everything in our power necessary to protect our hearts from offense entering into it. If your eye offends you, pluck it out. If your hand offends you, cut it off. We are the body of Christ. That means if any member in the body is trying to bring you into an offense, shut it down!
What to do with conflict that’s not yours?
- Be neutral. Don’t take any sides until you hear all sides. Don’t be naive and rush into conclusions. We all can get one sided in our stories.
- Monitor your heart above all from any kind of offense. If someone’s story is causing your love to lower for a person, you can no longer help. You can move from a place of compassion for both individuals.
- Think Biblical. Don’t get into your feelings or opinions when it comes to relational disputes. Follow God’s instructions on this. His ways are perfect. Anything else will lead to destruction both in your life and those in the conflict.
- Think Win-Win-Win. If your heart is neutral on the matter and you have compassion, help them make the biblical choice. A win-win-win is when the person offended is helped, the person who did the offending is helped and God’s Word is glorified in the end because things were done His way.