If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).
If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3; NIV).
I have always been puzzled by these two apparently contradictory teachings of Jesus. The first suggests we should silently respond to being hurt with acceptance and forgiveness. It includes no suggestion that further action is needed in order to restore the relationship.
The second saying, on the other hand, indicates that we should respond to being hurt by approaching the person concerned, speaking out about how we have been affected, and expecting an apology in order to be reconciled.
For many years, I have wondered how to distinguish between the concerns I can let go, as in the first quotation, and those I need to address with the person concerned, as in the second. Today’s blog summarises what I have learned.
When I have an issue with someone, but believe it’s mainly about me, not them, I begin by dealing with it internally, through prayer. For example, if someone has hurt me, I say nothing, and work to forgive them. Then I try to let the matter go.
However, if the issue continues to nag at my mind, stirring up negative emotions, this tells me I need to address it directly with the person concerned.
Constant awareness of my feelings enables me to decide how, and when, to address each issue, rather than allowing matters to fester at the back of my mind. Starting the resolution process by contacting the other person and explaining the issue straightforwardly, is, in itself, a great relief. Once such action becomes necessary, there is no substitute for speaking the truth in love, using whatever means of communication seems most appropriate.
Whatever the final outcome, being able to raise difficult matters directly is a very significant part of our life-long process of inner healing and emotional maturation. So, when letting go doesn’t work, the way forward is to speak the truth in love. This is how I work to restore my peace of mind, and build a genuine connection with those who hurt me.
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34; NLT).
We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).