“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things, See how great a forest a little fire kindles” (James 3:5, NKJV).
James is making a very serious point in this text so many times in our lives we feel vindicated when we share our frustrations and complaints with those we feel are understanding of our situation. In doing so we start a fire that can, and usually does become a raging fire of discontentment and self righteous indignation that destroys unity and fellowship of the church all the while feeling we are just to do so. The problem begins when something is said, or someone hurt us by their actions. Now I know the pain is real and yes it does hurt, but instead of addressing the hurt with the one who hurt us we generally reach out to those around us and gather support and confirmation of the wrong done to us. At first this seems to be right thing to do and so we begin gathering support for our side and forming the dreaded parking lot committee to discuss our hurt and get some sort of justification for the pain we feel. An acknowledgement that the other party was wrong and we are the victim. This way we think we are free to speak out against said persons justifiably for the pain they inflected upon us.
A good friend once utter some words to me I will never forget, “There is no hurt like church hurt!” I believe no truer words have been spoken. The church is made up of broken people, who at times to be honest sin, and sometimes that sin is against another Christian in the fellowship. James gave this warning to show that the tongue can destroy a church’s fellowship and even a person. So here is the million dollar question, how do we address the church hurt? Jesus knew this would arise in His church and Jesus gives’ us a blue print on how to address church hurt. This blue print is found in the book of Matthew chapter 18:15-17, He tells us if someone hurts us in the fellowship we should go to that person and address the hurt. So many times we find there was a misunderstanding between two people, like something taken out of context that was said, or even done. Instead of starting a parking lot committee and convincing everyone how wrong the other person is Jesus tells us to go to the source and share our heart. If they do not respond in love or you feel like there is still a problem go with a neutral person outside the situation preferably a very mature Christian like an elder, or Sunday school teacher. If the issue is still not resolve then take it to the church leadership and let them moderate between the two parties.
The hard part of course no matter the outcome of the reconciliation is to love them and forgive them. If they refuse to repent or admit there wrong then we love them and forgive them. If they repent and admit they are wrong we love and forgive them. Jesus does not give us a choice in the matter, if you are His then you are called to forgive. One if they are a fellow Christian God is glorified in your forgiveness and love for each other. If they refuse to admit or acknowledge the wrong, then God is still glorified by your love for them and forgiveness. In Revelation 20:1-15 God tells us all wrongs will be dealt with, no one will get away with any wrong they have done, and all will give an account for their deeds on earth. For the believer forgiveness is a must even in the Lord ’s Prayer Jesus make the point we are to forgive, “And forgive our debts, As we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, NKJV). The worse thing we can do is to form a parking lot committee through communicating our hurt via the internet (face-book), phone calls, or yes even the church parking lot. Matthew 18 ends with a somber warning to all God’s children, “And his master was angry and delivered him to the tortures until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:34-35, NKJV). The child of God is known for his love of the brethren (1 John and forgiveness, let the parking lot be known for parking cars.