Breaking down our walls of resentments is an on going, almost daily, process for several reasons.
Last time we introduced the process of listing our unresolved anger and resentments in the categories that affect us most adversely. As we work through this process, the mind will release them over a period of time – sometimes individually, sometimes in lump sum or collective clusters and sometimes in a mixed bag of both earlier and recent issues. And at each juncture we will have to deal with hurtful and sometimes forgotten memories.
Caution: As you are mentally and emotionally working through this process, do not try to make amends immediately upon recognizing a need or urge to do so.. Give yourself time to heal. Remember the lesson: Attack the problem and not the person.
Evaluation is an important part of the healing process from breaking down the walls of resentments. To facilitate this process we will need to apply the answers to these questions:
Whose Problem Is It?
Did I Cause It?
Can I Help?
If we neglect to follow the process of breaking down walls of resentments, that is, by not allowing the Holy Spirit to perform His task in the process; it will probably be concluded it is the other person’s problem.
As humans, we seem to have the knack of exonerating ourselves if we have a choice to do so. This thinking opens the door to blame shifting.
Even so this is a legitimate question that needs answering.
Initially there may not be enough recall or information to draw a conclusion as to whose problem an incident may be. Remember learning earlier there is always a certain amount of right and a certain amount of wrong on both sides of every issue? But this does not pre-conclude that one person or another may own the problem.
Did I cause it?
To answer this question the Holy Spirit must also have full sway to draw the proper conclusion. And it may be that because of that certain amount of right and wrong on both sides of every equation there may not be a clear-cut conclusion as to ones guilt or innocence.
Regardless of the vagueness of concluding a definite answer to either or both of the above questions, however, the following question should be considered:
Can I help?
We cannot know if we can help until a matter has been fully dealt with and resolved.
Offering to help may open the door to allow one to do so. Offering to help may temporarily, or in extreme cases, permanently close the door to a relationship. In either case we can move on and consider the matter closed.
The first passage admonishes us: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
The second passage admonishes us unequivocally: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
The balance of this passage, verses 16 and 17, states if he does not hear you take two witnesses and then take him before the church. These steps sometimes are necessary, but in this teaching we will only pursue the first step of this passage.
Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15 are similar, but are also significantly different. A brief word study will shed more light on these teachings:
English: Ought: auxiliary verb. 1. (used to express duty or moral obligation), (Authors note: While this is a mandate, it does not state specifically what prompts action. It is a command “to go.”)
Greek: Ought (Gr. tis): indefinite pronoun; some or any person or object: - a (kind of), and (man, thing, anything at all).
It is not reading too much into this verse by this author to interpret this verse as a mandate to go and become reconciled no matter what the matter and/or who is most right or most wrong. Whereas in the latter verse (18:15) this is definitely a case where someone has sinned against another.
A prevailing attitude in this instance, that is, someone has sinned against another, would be to say, “They sinned against me; let them come to me.” However true that may be, whenever there is “ought” between two people, the person carrying the burden of awareness is admonished by Scripture “to go.”
Combining these two teachings it must be concluded that whether a person is right or wrong i.e., innocent or guilty it is incumbent on them to take the first step to reconciliation. This is why we must allow the Holy Spirit to be the leader in breaking down walls of resentments.
Next time: The Hardest Thing to Give is ____!
Rev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy, Advisory Board Member of the Virginia Christian Alliance and Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service.