Everyone’s been burned. Sometimes by a witty comeback, sometimes by accidentally touching a hot pan, or sometimes after spending hours laying out at the pool. But sometimes it’s by a person, another Christian brother or sister. There are countless stories of women in the Church who have gotten burned by the people they least expected.
-Ashley went to Melanie in confidence. She was having a serious issue and needed accountability but what did Melanie go and do? She went to her “prayer” group and told everyone about Ashley’s problem, as a means of “praying” for her. Ashley felt completely betrayed, like she couldn’t even trust her Christian friends now. She felt burned.
-Nancy was accused, by someone she barely knew at church, of things she didn’t do. But the other lady insisted she did it, didn’t listen to Nancy try to tell the truth, and now everyone at church believes the false accusations. Nancy was flabbergasted, stunned, hurt beyond words. She felt burned.
-Anne told Susie about an idea she had for the upcoming women’s ministry luncheon theme. Susie thought it was a great idea. She thought it was so great, in fact, that during the planning committee meeting, she offered it up as her own. Everyone else thought it was great too and they chose it for the luncheon. Anne couldn’t believe Susie would do that and not even mention the fact that Anne came up with the idea first. She felt like Susie cared more about being successful than their friendship. She felt burned.
I have my own stories and so do you. Why do we even have these “burn” stories because aren’t we, as the body of Christ, as the family of God, supposed to love each other and treat each other with kindness? Shouldn’t we be able to trust each other the most, above those that are not Christians? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes Christians hurt other Christians so much that they leave their church, leave their job, or leave the friendship. So, as the person who has been burned, are we just the victims who stand by until vindication comes? Or, are there things we can do to make the situation better and heal our hearts?
Before anything else, you must:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… Heb. 12:15
Without forgiveness, our hearts begin to turn bitter. The bitterness then seeps into every other part of our lives. I bought a bag of potatoes and found that one of the potatoes had started to rot. I didn’t think anything of it because it was only one potato and surely it wasn’t going to do anything to the rest of the bag. A week later, I opened the bag and, to my disgust, a white film and putrid smell welcomed me. Each potato was rotten to the core and a whole bag ruined because they were affected by one, little potato whose problem was not dealt with.
That’s what happens when we fail to forgive anyone who has done us an injustice. It reaches to our core and begins to affect everything from our friendships, to our marriages. Everyone then gets hurt by our hurt. I was a very bitter, hurt high-schooler, but I thought it wasn’t going to affect anyone. I just had to deal with it on my own and no one else had to see. I thought that until my family had an intervention with me. They let me know how much my bitterness was making our home peaceless, it was hurting them, and hurting everyone I came in contact with.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:13
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt. 6:14-15
Christ gave up his very life so that we could be forgiven of all the rotten, dirty things we’ve done, so that we could be a part of His family and be in His presence. He made us pure and called us to act just like him. He forgave you, so you must forgive.
Search Your Heart
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Ps. 4:4
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Ps. 139: 23-24
Though you may be the one who was burned, you are responsible for your actions as well. How did you react when that person hurt you? What were your thoughts afterward about that person? Did you condemn them, were you angry at them, did you slander their name to anyone else? Initially you were the one who was offended but you still have to make sure that your heart was in the right, that there was no offense in your way.
Get an Attitude Adjustment
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Life is what you make it”? Well, it’s pretty right on. If your heart and attitude are right in God’s eyes, then your situation with the person who hurt you can be a lot better. You’re thinking with a pure mind, your attitude is more positive, and you are filled with the love of Christ for that person who burned you. It may be hard to believe, but any situation can be pleasant when the Lord is in control of it and your heart. It may just soften your “enemy’s” heart to you as well. It doesn’t matter how bad things are between the two of you, God can work in your heart and theirs to make the situation peaceful.
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Prov. 16:7
To Confront or Not to Confront
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Ps. 27:6
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he 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 he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matt. 18: 15-17
Many times in the Old Testament, God would have prophets speak the words of the Lord to those who had been offensive in the eyes of the Lord. Christ often confronted those who threw accusations at him, wronged him, and spoke against him. The Lord can use you, as a tool, to help bring another sister or brother to repentance. I hate confrontation with a passion but the Lord has taught me over the past couple of years what a positive thing it can be.
Several times I’ve had to go to friends and tell them, in love, about concerns I have about their behavior and the Lord has used it to work in both of our hearts and make the friendship even stronger. When motives are pure, then confrontation can be a very biblical thing to do and necessary for peace to be made. But other times we have to “choose our battles.” God has called us to live a life of peace with each other and sometimes confronting the person will only make things worse and put more of a rift in the relationship.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Rom. 12:18
There are times when you must choose to be a peacekeeper, by walking away from the situation. You choose to deal with your own heart, forgive, and leave the issue with the Lord. Sometimes the Lord says, “This is not your job; let me deal with her/him.” From the beginning of time, siblings have always tried to let each other know what they did wrong. They try to correct one another and be the judge and executor but then mom steps in with, “Hey, I’ll handle this, this is my job. Worry about your own self and I’ll handle them.”
The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 1 Thes. 4:5b
But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. Ps. 75:7
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, “says the Lord. Rom. 12:18
David was continually abused, accused, and attacked by Saul. At times David would confront Saul about these wrongs (1 Sam. 19; 24) and sometimes he would cry out to the Lord for vindication, for God to be the great Judge (Ps. 43). But always, David waited on the Lord’s timing to confront Saul.
Maybe the Lord is asking you to sit back while God works on her heart to be open to repentance and reconciliation. Maybe the Lord is asking you to go immediately and make things right between the two of you. Whatever the case, we must all make sure that there is forgiveness and love in our hearts before any reconciliation or confrontation can take place between a Christian brother or sister.
We’ve all been hurt deeply by those in the family of God, but I pray that we would all search our heart to make sure no bitterness has taken root. In your hurt, please don’t hurt others.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Col. 3:13-15