OK, that title is tongue-in-cheek, this won’t be a regular thing, but it got your attention, right?
I have some thoughts going through my mind and feelings about them going through my heart. This isn’t new though. It’s just something I’ve decided to write about now.
In disputes or disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ, how are we called to respond? I’m not talking about argument-disagreements, rather about disagreeing with another Christian’s opinions or actions, those that may not show a sinful heart but just a different opinion or way of handling things.
It has been troubling to me to see my brothers and sisters criticize each other publicly on social media when they disagree with what another says or does. The first thing I think is usually “what if God is calling that person to deal with their situation differently than you think they should? would you then criticize God?” But that’s only my own thought. It the Word that we need to look to, even when it doesn’t address specific situations the Lord does give enough to know the right path to follow, and the wrong one, when we’re tempted to make a brother look wrong to others (particularly unbelievers). I’m referring to teachings such as Mt. 18:15-17 which addresses an actual sin (which would be handled even more harshly than what I’m talking about here, I would think), even in this case we’re never told to take the matter to the court of public opinion for judgement of the individual:
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. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Nor are we to use the civil courts to resolve an issue with another Christian, as dealt with in 1Cor. 6:1-8, much less disagreement by one about how another is managing their affairs:
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
Romans 14:10-12 is definitely also another great indicator of how we’re to manage disagreements our brothers or sisters in Christ: (Note how passing judgment on one’s brother seems to be on a par with despising him…why do you do this? or why do you do that…?)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
All of this to say that my heart hurts when I hear or see fellow believers/followers taking their criticism of each other into public spaces rather than to follow God’s leading for dealing with them. I’m not sure if it is a carnal desire to make one feel superior to another, or look better to others than another, or maybe a displaced desire to make a brother/sister feel a public shame, or why this happens. But it is so common in social media that I see examples of it almost daily. And it hurts.