Monday, November 28, 2011

Dusting off Matthew 15:18 and Doing the Hard Thing

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (Matthew 18:15)

Does anybody really do this?

I should have seen it coming a mile away. God, early Saturday morning, speaks into my heart as I breathe in the oxygen that my corner Christmas tree expels. God says softly, "Let this be a season of quiet rest." Even under normal circumstances, which fly at me with break-neck speed, this will be a challenge. Surely I should have seen this for the set-up it was -- it's classic. But I am obtuse. Less than one hour after that sweet time alone with God and our new Christmas tree, I learn that a brother has sinned against me.

The rest of my day was anything but quiet rest.

I was angry. I felt violated. I needed a sounding board, but my husband had just flown out of town. I reached out online for wisdom from others, I wrestled and replayed the offense in my head. I fussed and stewed turmoil right into my quiet peace. And that quickly, I was disobedient.

I pound out a sharp email, but don't hit send. My gaze keeps returning to the beautiful still tree that breathes in my living room. It mocks me. I stop, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Breathe, I tell myself. The roiling storm slows to a simmer.  

I confide to a friend that I hate confrontation. I realize as the day progresses that my tension is actually because I'm sensing that God is prompting me to confront, but graciously, and I am resistant.

Then there is confirmation in my inbox and in my husband's tired voice over the phone when he says the word instruction among a flurry of others. It's the only word I remember after we hang up late. Angst is tiring, so I sleep well.

On Sunday, I draft another email, softer this time, and let it simmer, too, right through morning worship.

Our youth pastor preaches a sermon about the fear of the Lord. He takes us to Jesus' letter to Pergamum. Jesus is concerned about how this church tolerates false teachings that lead to immoral deeds. Jesus warns in 2:16, "Repent; or else I am coming to you quickly and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth."

Jermaine probes to the heart of my matter, "Why would we tolerate sin in the church? Why shrink back when righteousness has been compromised? If we do not confront the sin among us, Jesus warns that he will come and fight himself with his deadly double-edged sword. Better for us to confront. Do we hesitate because we fear man rather than God?"

I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him. (Luke 12:5-6)

I still hate confrontation, and I don't yet feel peace in my circumstances, but I finally know what I must do: the hard thing for righteousness' sake. I may have needed three confirmations because I am, after all, obtuse, but I'm glad God keeps speaking his will to me until my heart is quiet again and still.

Pray for me today while I dust off Matthew 15:18 and do the hard thing?

 
I'm writing in community with Michelle this week.
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