Pause

Some pride themselves on being rule-followers. Others see rules as made to be broken.

Think of these “Rules for Relationships” like a ruler – helping us get things straight, connecting two points, allowing us to be level and aligned.

When it comes to loving one another, God knows we need every tool we can get!

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Listen

“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector.”

Matthew 18:15-17

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Think

Isn’t it reassuring that conflict in churches didn’t begin with us? Believers have struggled to love one another since day one. And none of this surprises Jesus. He says, “Listen. Here’s how to handle hurt and wrongdoing.” First, go to the person you feel wronged you and address them one-on-one. This takes courage, clarity, and compassion. Second, if that conversation doesn’t go well, bring in one or two other trusted members of the community. The goal is to listen and to be listened to. And third, if that still doesn’t resolve it, you might need to share the situation with the church or leaders in the church. If that doesn’t work, you may have to let the person go.

Is this a one-size-fits-all way to deal with sin? Probably not. But it seems Jesus’ overall message is to go to the source. Don’t stew and fester and gossip and complain. Dignify yourself and someone else by going to them directly and then getting counsel and back-up if needed. It helps to remember that “hurt people hurt people.” How can you pray for healing in this situation?

Cari Pattison

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Pray

Jesus, you know firsthand that even friends can betray and abandon each other. Family members can misunderstand one another’s callings. Give me grace to see even those who’ve wronged me as children who are hurting and know not what they do. Give me the wisdom to know when I can reconcile and when I need to cut off contact. Give me the strength to practice forgiveness, while not enabling unhealthy behavior. Show me when to speak and when to listen, and help me feel and share your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Go

Being human together can be hard.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be generous to others.

Love might require effort.
It might mean saying “no.”
It might include “I’m sorry,”
or “I don’t know.”

And when it comes down to it, loving your neighbor as yourself simply means paying attention to what you feel and need and offering the same to another person.

Go in love,
and God be with you.

Cari Pattison

Cari Pattison is a Presbyterian (PC USA) pastor, soon to start a new ministry call in the Mid-Hudson Valley region (NY). She spent the past year thru-hiking two-thirds of the Appalachian Trail and learning a lot about gear, birdcalls, and broken ankles. Originally from Kansas City, she loves both the flatland prairies of the Great Plains and the rolling mountains of the Northeast, and loves how Jesus comes to find you no matter where you go.

It Is Well With My Soul

Mcconnell

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