In Matthew 18:15, Jesus offers a principle for healthy relationships that revolutionized my mindset when I sensed conflict with others. He says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” The primary application of this truth is for me as the reader of the verse to simply obey the command and go to any person who sins against us directly.
But think for a minute about what this command means for you and me when it is reversed, and other believers are called to obey it. It means that if we’ve offended others unknowingly, they are to come to us in private to talk about it.
Because of this revelation, I’ve quit wasting time and energy worrying about what other people think of me, or about what I might unintentionally do. I’ve stopped wondering what others might be thinking…or what I might have done wrong. Why? Because if I’ve done something wrong, they are to come to me and tell me. Until that happens, my guesses are just that. They’re guesses…rather than fact, reality, or truth.
As I’ve stopped analyzing my every move and second-guessing other people’s ideas about me, I have experienced more peace and greater openness in my relationships. I no longer fear or dread encounters with standoffish people. I’ve stopped presuming that they have a problem with me. Instead, I’ve begun looking to God through prayer, His Word, and the affirmation of mature Christian mentors to reveal any wrong attitudes and actions, rather than constantly looking for fault in things I’ve said or done.
What kinds of thoughts do you tend to have about people’s perception of you? I doubt that they are always positive and confident. No one’s are! After all, who hasn’t been plagued by self-doubt or crippled by negative thoughts, insecurity, and worry? And who hasn’t slipped into second-guessing, analysis, and suspicion? Instead of such unhealthy, cynical thinking, applying God’s principles to your thoughts —
- Choose to think on what is true and real.
- Corral your thoughts and refuse to second-guess or draw conclusions about people’s behavior.
- Count on others to tell you if you have failed in your behavior.
- Count on God’s Spirit to point out when you have offended someone.
By God’s grace and with His help, choose to think no evil about people or their perception of you. Determine to trust what others say and do. Count on others to come to you when you have failed them and count on God to reveal where you have offended them. Thoughts about people that are based on what is true and real liberate you to generously love and serve others. And, that’s what the Christian life is all about!
Question: Do you tend to presume that others are thinking positively or negatively about you? Who can you go to for wise counsel and genuinely ask if you need to make changes in your interaction with others?
For more encouragement read, Loving God with All Your Mind.
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