I recently preached a sermon on the issue of confronting sin in other's lives - being willing and courageous enough to go to someone and honestly and vulnerably let them know that they have sinned against you. We all have these instances in our lives, when someone close to us says or does something that pierces our hearts. Yes, those who love us actually sin against us. Sometimes we wound each other out of pride. Other times it's out of carelessly and thoughtlessly placing ourselves in a place of more importance than those we love. Regardless of the means or the motive, it happens. That said, I think it's important to point out what this does and does NOT mean. In order to do that, I it's essential to identify something else that we fall victim to that comes disguised as sin.
It all starts with us being willing to recognize and acknowledge a flaw that most of us carry as humans. You can look at it as a chink in the armor, part of our fleshly nature, or just being human. The truth is, many of us very easily get our feelings hurt. Someone says something - someone leaves us out - someone makes a decision - we hear, see, feel, or perceive - and we're left standing there, with what feels like an arrow sticking out of our chest. We allow our "feelings" to be discarded and trampled on like a cigarette butt. And because we're already wounded, and we just can't bear to think about it anymore or dare trouble someone else with, we let it take root, sink it's teeth into our heart, and just like we're promised in scripture, the seeds of bitterness are planted.
BOOM! That's all it takes. The seed is planted. The bitter root takes hold.
And this is where we have to be incredibly discerning and understanding of scripture. This is the junction of spiritual maturity. Will we have the humility and wisdom to seek the heart of God, to be filled by the Spirit, and to beg for the mind of Christ and realize that there is a difference between your brother or sister in Christ SINNING against you...and you having your feelings hurt. This doesn't change the need and mandate to go to the person and work toward reconciliation. This doesn't change the fact that you feel wounded and possibly betrayed. What it does change - what it HAS to change - is the heart and judgment that we hold over the other person's head. In our hearts, we have this tendency to instantly brand someone GUILTY! Somehow forgetting that we so often ourselves carelessly wound, hurt, and offend. (Maybe we just do it behind close doors or behind backs. Maybe we do it in such a way that it doesn't make such a public ruckus. Maybe that doesn't matter an ounce.)
My flesh is so quick to judge and so quick to hand down GUILTY verdicts.
The Spirit says, "Even though you wronged me, I love you. As my brother or sister in Christ, I forgive you. I release you. NOT GUILTY!"
Is there an instance or circumstance or relationship in your life where you've confused this? Is there someone you need to release from the penalty of their mistake? If there is - and you don't - you will be the one imprisoned, in bondage, and perpetually wounded.