Why am I surprised when I’m confronted? (Matthew 18)

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15

Here are some things I believe:

– I sometimes (maybe even often) do ugly things. I say ugly things. I think ugly things. I sin.

– Because Jesus died on the cross, my ugly things are forgiven by God. They do not define me.

– Still, other people see those ugly things.

– Some people in my life love me enough to tell me about those ugly things. They help me notice sin that I have become blind to or would prefer to ignore.

So, in light of all that, why am I surprised when I’m confronted?

Knowing that I’ll say, think, or do something (maybe many things) this week that are ugly, and that at least some of those things will be observed by people that love me, shouldn’t I expect someone to come to me and talk about it?

And since I’m already forgiven for those things, shouldn’t I (and other Christians) be the easy people in the world to confront?

The above is basically verbatim from my sermon yesterday.  Then today I got a chance to put it into practice (oh, joy). I said something stupid in the announcements yesterday during the service.  I was annoyed that we are having a hard time finding people to help usher, so I said that anyone who didn’t have stumps for arms or suffer from a terrible botox accident which made smiling impossible was eligible to help.

It was meant to be funny, but the same thing that makes it less than hilarious made it inappropriate for me to say: it suggested/implied/flat out said that certain people weren’t needed at church. Today one of the guys in our church called me and told me as much. He was confidential, direct, and loving, just as Matthew 18 says to be. And I knew he was right.

So why am I still defensive when confronted?  Because I still need to grow in my grasp of God’s love.

Jesus, I need to know your forgiveness more fully.  You are better than the laughter of a crowd. You are better than the fantasy where I am always right, always beloved. You are better.

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