What to do when you’ve wronged someone

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PHOTO: Nicolas Raymond
PHOTO: Nicolas Raymond

Sunday Inspiration – February 8, 2015

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Though we may never say this outwardly, deep down there is a part in each of us that demands perfection from everybody else – the guy who pulled out in front of us on the roadway, the young cashier at the supermarket who mistakenly gave us a nickel when we were owed a quarter, even the little old ladies at our local polling places on election day are not immune to what can, at times, be the wrath of our arrogance. Regardless of the words we use, quite often our attitudes toward those who have wronged us – even if only by accident – are constantly decrying, ‘If only the world were as good as me.”

It generally isn’t hard to find fault in someone else, because as the case may be, human beings are by their very own nature foolish and prone to err.

Generally speaking, when we’re the party clearly at fault, we tend to have no problem in recognizing the overall shortcoming of the entire human race – to put it simply, this is often our “out.” When it’s the other guy who is in the wrong, however, that whole “total depravity of man” thing seems to go straight out the window.

With all of this said, there is a two-fold reality that every person on the planet must learn:

#1. Over the course of your life, people are going to wrong you.
Someone is going to pull out in front of you (which is why you shouldn’t text and drive!), someone is going to say something that is absolutely unnecessary, someone is going to do something that is completely out of line and your feelings are going to be hurt on more than one occasion over the course of your existence. That’s just the sad nature of the beast.

The short and sweet of it is that people can be hurtful and if you hang around them long enough, be ready to wipe some tears from your own eyes.

The internet seems to have a lot to say about “what to do when you’ve been wronged,” and for good reason, there are a lot of people out there who have been wronged.

Surprisingly, however, very little is offered in the form of “what to do when you’ve wronged someone” articles. This is interesting, because for every one person who has been wronged, there is one person who was wronging.

Which brings us to the second reality that every person on the planet must learn:

#2. Over the course of your life, you are going to wrong people.
Yes. You. Over the course of your life, you are going to be the person to cause someone tears, grief and anguish… after all, you’re ‘only human!’

But what should we do, Biblically speaking, if we’ve wronged someone?

I. Recognize that it is within your power to wrong someone
The first thing we must do is recognize that though we may never have even intended to do this, it is certainly within our power to offend someone – it’s within everyone’s power to hurt.

Though some people have no problem in recognizing this truth, many others are so fueled by pride and self-righteousness to ever admit that they even have it in their ability to slight or offend someone. Since you’re reading this article, I hope that this description doesn’t fit you, but if it does, you must see yourself for how the Word of God describes you:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” – I John 1.8

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” – Isaiah 64.6

Until a person ever reaches the point where they are able to recognize the existence of their own wantonness, then that person can never truly do what is required of he or she in resolving a conflict.

II. Recognize that it is within your responsibility to get it right
According to Jesus, being able to get along with your brothers and sisters in church is of far greater importance than what you give or how you worship.

“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.” – Matthew 5.23-24

Seeing the high level of extreme importance Christ has placed upon us being right with those whom we have offended, Jesus states that the very moment we are reminded of someone having a problem with us, we are to cease nearly all other spiritual pursuits and run to that person to get it right.

Makes one wonder how many individuals met this morning in churches all across America in vain, knowing that someone somewhere had a problem with them yet they did nothing to rectify the situation? So many of America’s churches are in a state of decay and the root cause may simply be pride – pride that is keeping someone from making a call, offering a hug or simply accepting guilt with an air of humility.

But what about some people who simply will not forgive?
You can do everything right, that is after you’ve wronged someone. You can call, offer to publicly apologize, beg, plead, cry and so much more – yet the offended person will not forgive you.

This is fine. You have done your part.

The sad reality is that there are simply some people who will refuse to forgive and live peaceably with:
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” – Romans 12.18

“If it be possible,” tells me that some people are impossible to live peaceably with. But that’s okay, God will be their judge.

As stated earlier in this article, the world is filled with humans, over 7-billion of them to be exact, and every one of them is capable of hurting your feelings and you are capable of hurting anyone of their feelings. What’s the anecdote? Love the God of the Word and the Word of God:
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” – Psalm 119.165

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