Introduction: Mt. 5:23-24, Mt. 18:15-17 (Jesus taught that before you make your offering of service to God you need to settle differences with others. The Bible gives specific procedures for doing this. This lesson intends to explore the wrong way and the right way to settle personal differences.)
What People Usually Do:
1. Let It Boil, Bitterness Builds: Prov. 10:18 (Often when one has been offended and been asked regarding the offense they lie by saying nothing is wrong.) Jas. 3:14 (After brooding over the problem bitterness and hate builds. This is nothing to be proud of.)
2. Tell Others: Ps. 101:5 (Such slander is a shame before God and those who do such will be cut off.) Prov. 11:9 (To slander a brother by gossiping behind their back rather than dealing with the problem is hypocrisy.) Prov. 15:22 (However it may be legitimate to discuss the situation with a third party to seek counsel on how to handle it.)
3. "Air" It Publicly: Eph. 4:31-32 (Pitching fits is contrary to Christian behavior of kindness and tender heartedness.) 1 Cor. 6:1-8 (Law suits between Christians is another way some "air" it publicly and attempt to deal with problems. This too is unacceptable.) Jn. 13:34-35 (All should bear in mind that the love with which Christians face personal differences is a reflection of genuineness.)
What People Should Do:
1. Drop It: Mt. 5:25-26 (Jesus advised quick settlement of differences.) Prov. 17:9 (Sometimes a matter is trivial and a loving attitude allows one to drop it and never bring it up again nor dwell on it.)
2. Resolve It: Lk. 17:3-4 (If the problem is serious it merits repentance and then forgiveness.) Mt. 18:15-17 (If the problem is serious it merits the steps outlined here.)
Four Possible Outcomes:
1. Active Resolution: The problem is confronted followed by repentance and possible restitution and all is forgiven.
2. Passive Resolution: The offended party decides the matter is trivial and merits no further action. Based on Prov. 17:9 the matter is dropped and forgotten.
3. Ambiguous Resolution: It is decided that there is no clear guilt or that guilt is shared. No further action is taken and based on Prov. 17:9 the matter is dropped and forgotten.
4. Refusal: The offending party is obstinate and refuses to repent or seek forgiveness. The issue is taken to the next step outlined in Mt. 18:15-17.