The Number One reason married couples come to New Hope Counseling Service is, “We have a breakdown in communication.”
Communication breakdown is not confined to marriage relationships. If you can talk you have the potential for a communication breakdown.
Politeness and civility take a backseat when two or more disagree on any given subject at any given time in any given arena.
Early in this study we learned, we can change our actions faster than we can change our feelings. The following scenario will resonate with most who are reading this piece.
Two people are in a heated discussion – feuding, fussing and verbally fighting – and the telephone rings. One person answers the call with a calm, quiet voice saying, “Hello.”
If you have ever done this or witnessed this, you have proven my point.
The A, B, Cs for Handling Communication Breakdowns
First we will look at how people try to handle communication breakdowns that do not work.
In Psalm 55:6-8 we read: “And I said, ‘Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.’”
King David said, in essence, “I’ll handle this by avoidance.”
In Genesis 3:12 we read: “And the man said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’”
Adam sought to handle this matter by blame shifting.
A = avoidance, B = blame shifting – neither approach is effective.
How would God handle a communication breakdown? C = Confront. Confrontation is not always a knock down drag out event.
First, it must be determined who is responsible for initiating reconciliation i.e., confrontation? Regarding this step it has been said: The hardest thing to give is IN. Giving IN, however, is not giving up; it is taking the first step to resolving any matter.
What do you do when you might have offended someone? Matthew 5:23-24 sheds light on this scenario: “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.”
Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God. If we have a problem or grievance with a friend we should resolve the problem as soon as possible. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while there is ought between us and another person.
*Ought: (Greek: tis) some or any person or object: any thing at all.
It is note-worthy this Greek word is vague. In context, the one making the sacrifice could be guilty of an offense or innocent; the other party could be guilty or innocent.
The teaching, however, is not vague: The party realizing a relationship is fractured for any reason is compelled to take the first step to reconciliation. But this is only half the equation taught in the Bible. In the following passage it is very clear who is the innocent party and who is the guilty.
The following passage, Matthew 18:15-17, are Jesus’ guidelines for dealing with those who have sinned against us. They are meant for (1) Christians not unbelievers, (2) Sins against you and not others. They are designed to reconcile those who disagree so that all Christians can live in harmony.
For this illustration we will focus on 18:15: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him of his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
God’s ‘C’ is confront; but confront in love.
The biblical admonition is plain. No matter who is at fault, the one first realizing it is admonished to take the first step toward reconciliation.
But, how do you approach them?
Next time: A Negative Approach to a Positive Response
Rev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy, Advisory Board Member of the Virginia Christian Alliance and Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service.