“Honesty is the Best Policy”
Benjamin Franklin is credited with haven spoken these words. However, I think that the concept goes back a few years earlier than this. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus instructs us on how to handle a brother that sins against you. Jesus tells us that if a brother offends us that we should go to him and “show him his fault, just between the two of you.” This type of response is very rare in our society. This is not shocking because in our pride filled, self centered society such a response would be difficult, even impossible, for most people to manage. What is shocking, however, is how infrequent these words of Jesus are headed within the church. Let me share two stories of when I DID follow Jesus instructions and how it turned out.
A few months ago I was sitting in a meeting of some of the leadership of our church. In the course of the meeting Pastor said some stuff, or rather didn’t say some stuff that I felt like he should say. I won’t go into details as they really don’t matter. The bottom line was that I was offended when he failed to speak up for me in an instance when it would have been inappropriate for me to speak up for myself. I spent the remainder of the meeting silently fuming and waiting for him to speak up. I left the meeting angry. As I drove home I had multiple conversations with Pastor, in my head. I was planning the conversation that I was going to have with him….later. The more I thought about the situation the angrier I became. Finally I decide that I just needed to call him. So I did. I told him what had happened and how I felt. Before I could even get rolling with the eloquent speech I had planned in my head he cut me short by saying, “Your right, and I’m sorry.” Just like that the conversation was over. We spoke for a few more minutes, but I felt better and he had a better understanding. I did what Jesus commanded and it worked.
Here’s another one. Back in March of this year I traveled to Fort Myers, FL with my family. I was there to attend a children’s ministry conference. My wife has an uncle that lives down there and every year we go down there to spend the weekend with him and his family and I attend this conference on Saturday. This uncle is great man of God. One of the things I look forward to about this trip is talking with him about God and about our own spiritual journeys. Well, during one of the conversations I said something and he responded with something that was hurtful and offensive. I know he wasn’t trying to hurt me, but that doesn’t change the fact that he did. Well, I said nothing, initially. As we drove the 2.5 hours home I thought more about this, fumed might be more accurate. I let it stew for a while longer after we got home. Then I thought about the recent experience with Pastor and about what Jesus said in Matthew 18. So, I shot him a private message on Facebook. Well, guess what. It worked he apologized, acknowledged that what he said was out of line and we made up.
In both these cases my relationship with these men actually grew stronger because of this conflict and resolving it as Jesus commanded. This is weird because it actually worked the way Jesus said it would. However, Jesus did acknowledge that it will not always work this way and gave us instructions for the next steps to take.
So, if you never gain anything else from reading my blog, gain this: do what Jesus commands in Matthew 18. Come back tomorrow as we learn that honest may not ALWAYS be the best policy.Matt Norman
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