In many situations and conflicts there is a question, “Who is right?” People will spend considerable time trying to figure out who is correct / incorrect in the argument. There are times when diagnosing who is right or what is the right decision is helpful. Of course, there are times when this is a waste of time. But so many of us will not seek reconciliation because we believe, “I am right.”
Yet Scripture says you can be right and wrong at the same time.
Consider a married couple. One night, the man stays up late and entertains pornography. The next day his wife discovers it then proceeds to lock him out of the room, yell at him, and avoid him. Are his actions wrong? Yes. Is she right? Yes and no. Or what about a couple who has an agreed budget. She goes shopping and blows the budget without any communication to her husband. He finds out and yells at her angry over her actions. Is she right? No. Is he right? Yes and no. Finally contemplate a mother who discovers her child stole from her purse. After discovering the theft, she berates her child verbally screaming at him. Is the child right? Of course not. Is the mother? Yes and no.
In all three instances someone sins against another. Yet, the responding party also sins in each instance. This produces a bad situation gone worse. Consider each situation. One person clearly sins. Pornography, broken commitment, and steeling are all sins in this situation. In each case the person sins against another. God says we should confront one another, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one . . .” (Gal. 6:1). God says our hearts will deceive us and therefore we need to, “encourage one another day after day, as long is it is still called ‘Today’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13). Confrontation is expected in each situation. Parents, bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
However, each person fails in how he or she confronts the issue. This is a big deal in Scripture. God cares about HOW we respond as much as He cares for our supporting righteousness and obedience. We must have convictions regarding every facet when confronting a person. Take Galatians 6:1 again, the entire verse, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to yourself so that you too will not be tempted” (Emphasis mine). In all three situations, the offended party fails to respond with gentleness opening the door to his or her own sinful heart.
It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person acts, our response must align with God’s Word and character. A lot of people feel justified in anger because the other person “wronged me”. “Yeah, but what if the other person doesn’t confess and repent?” “What if my husband has no problem with his pornography? Why do I have to endure it?” Listen to how God says we deal with it, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses escaping the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:24-26). There is a three-fold process to the problem and solution.
- When someone wrongs us we must be patient, kind, able to instruct, and not looking to fight.
- Our correction should be biblical and that means speaking with gentleness and love.
- God is the one who grants repentance. We correct gently, but realize God has to open his or her eyes.
In none of our situations should a person remain silent. Yet neither should any of them yell, scream, dig in, and become vicious either. In fact, the offending party should know grace by our seasoned words and attitude.
How is this possible? It’s most possible when we concern ourselves with reconciliation. If I seek to help restore my spouse, then I’m most likely not going to yell, scream, and sin in my response. I know the only one who can change a person is God and I trust He will do it at the right time. So, it does me no good to yell, scream, or berate my spouse — in fact, Galatians warns it is sin and I am open to further problems. Instead, I desire to see the other person restored and therefore communicate the truth with gentleness because I know he or she needs the truth, compassion, and a gentle word to accompany the truth. Gentleness props up and supports the truth.
God uses the truth to change hearts. It pierces through the flesh to the inner heart hardening or softening people (Heb 4:12). I have to trust the Lord will do this in the appropriate time and act righteously in every way.
Now, let’s pretend this happens to us and we find ourselves in a situation where our response to sin is sin. What do we do? We confess to the Lord and the offended party and then ask forgiveness from each one. Why? Because even though I’m right, I’m not right, and therefore need to confess my sin and seek restoration exactly like I’m encouraging the other person to do.