I am constantly amazed and saddened at how often believers rupture relationships with other believers because they have made assumptions - often deeply faulty - about motives or actions. In the process, people are hurt, God's reputation is compromised, His mission is thwarted and ultimately the evil one wins which is just what he wants to do. If the evil one can sow seeds of doubt and destruction between fellow believers he will - and he does. How we respond to those seeds of doubt and relational destruction is our choice and it often has eternal consequences.

Before relationships are irretrievably disrupted there are some questions we need to ask.

One, do I have my facts right? How often do we hear something about someone else that is derogatory. Wise individuals know that second hand information is often faulty information. They also know that there are two or more sides to every story. Before we draw our own conclusions we ought to consider the real possibility that there is more to the situation than what we know and either hold our own counsel or if necessary verify the information we have received before drawing conclusions. 

In many cases we don't even rely on second hand information but our own assumptions regarding an action or situation and have never simply picked up the phone for a conversation with the one we are making assumptions about. Not only is it foolish to do so but it is deeply unfair to the one who is the target of our negative perceptions who may be and often is fully innocent of the assumptions we have made.

Two, is there another explanation for what I have heard, seen or observed? Over the years I have discovered that most of the time when I have chosen to draw negative conclusions about a person or situation I discover that my assumptions about motives or actions were not correct and that there was a reasonable explanation for what had taken place that made sense - when I asked. Each time I am stung by the realization of how quickly it is for us to jump to the wrong conclusion - perhaps the result of our own sinful nature and our tendency to see the worst in others rather than the best.

Three, have I talked with the individual myself to discover whether there is a way to resolve the issue at hand? It is amazing what honest conversation, dialogue and questions can resolve that otherwise would have been left on the scrapheap of severed relationships. It is often helpful to involve a neutral third party who can help those who have taken sides hear one another and to clarify issues, assumptions, actions and possible solutions. A simple conversation can quickly solve many badly made assumptions.

I recently heard of a situation where a group was talking about an individual who they seemed unanimously unhappy with. Not one of them, however, had made the effort to talk to the one they were talking about. Thus they were left with their own assumptions which may or may not have been correct but one conversation could have given them some good information.

Four, have I contributed in any way to the relationship that has gone south? Often, we choose not to resolve issues because it means that we ourselves must admit that we bear responsibility. It is far easier to save face and paint the picture that we have been aggrieved than to admit to ourselves and others that we also have been wrong. That takes Godly humility and honesty.

Paul makes it clear that there is a battle being fought out of our sight: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). 

I am convinced that one of the foremost strategies of the evil one is to cause relational ruptures between His people in order to hurt Kingdom advancement. There may be times when such ruptures are unavoidable (we live in a fallen world) but I don't want to be an unwitting pawn in Satan's hands because I have not been shrewd about his tactics and asked the right questions.
  • Jul 18, 2013
  • Category: News
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