When people disappoint us

Do I even need to ask if you’ve been disappointed by people that you respected, admired, loved?

I imagine you have. It’s hard enough to be disappointed by someone that you didn’t have very high expectations of to begin with, but it’s even worse when you had good reason to believe in them, especially when they are a brother or sister in Christ.

I’ve done a little thinking about some of the low-lights of my life — times when I was let down by other Christians. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by people that have blessed my socks off, but maybe that’s why the hurtful situations stung all the more. As I reflect, I am deeply grateful for God’s grace and mercy through the messes, and I’m reminded of some truths and principles that I wish I had done a better job of applying while I was wrestling with disillusionment and anger.

1) Speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
It’s definitely crucial to speak the truth — don’t think it’s right to lie and say you weren’t bothered by something when you really were. We are called to be iron, sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), challenging each other to grow.

It’s equally important to speak in love rather than condemnation — it is your love that shows you are Christ’s disciples. (John 13:35) Even Jesus himself, who was blameless, confronted only in love; Holy anger at the sin— yes, but also still in love to the sinner.

2) Check the mirror for the log in your own eye.
Matthew 7:4 says, “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?”

Make sure you know where you are sinning. Confess it and deal with it before confronting. Confess your sin to your offender as well.

3) Follow the Matthew 18 principle:

A) Confront (in love) one-on-one. Don’t gossip, don’t gang up on the offender. Go to them in private and try to work things out God’s way.

B) If A doesn’t work, bring a witness and confront (in love) again.

C) If A & B don’t work, bring the issue to the Body of believers. Allow your pastor to guide the process.

4) Remember that your fight is not actually against “flesh and blood” but rather “against the spiritual forces of wickedness.” (Ephesians 6:12)
This is huge. Satan is constantly at work to divide the Body of Christ. No matter how horribly your brother or sister in the Lord has offended you, remember who your true enemy is. Put on your spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) so that you can do battle properly and against the right enemy.

5) Understand forgiveness.
Know that Christ calls us to forgive “seventy times seven” — meaning without limit. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Also know that forgiving someone is not the same thing as having no healthy boundaries. Forgiveness means you give up your “right” to see them punished. You rejoice at God’s grace toward them and you show them grace as well. But, it doesn’t mean that you expect to be best friends or even that you stay in regular communication if that would provoke further problems.

6) Look forward to heaven.
If your heart hurts at the fact that your fellowship has been broken with someone, even after handling conflict or disappointment in as biblical manner as possible, take comfort knowing that all things will be made new in heaven. There will be no more tears or pain. (Revelation 21:4) We will finally experience the joy of being unified in Christ; free from sin.