“Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him your fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” –Matthew 18:15
This verse always takes me back to my freshman year orientation for high school. That night my teacher challenged us all to enter into these next four years and work to keep short accounts with the people in our lives. The charge was to speak with the person you have a problem with, directly and do so within 48 hours. It became this ongoing joke whenever anyone would make a remark about someone that wasn’t a positive one, everyone would just say: “you have 48 hours!” We always joked about it but honestly it is so true. Holding onto a fault you see in your brother only creates bitterness and a hardness of your own heart. That bitterness starts small however, it can grow and fester into something so much bigger than the original problem. And even more so, when you go and tell someone all about the faults in this person, it now taints their view of this other person when in reality they have no place in even being involved and you have just severed a relationship you had no place being involved in.
For me, bitterness had been something I had worked very hard to not hold onto. And outwardly, I think it looked as if I did a pretty dang good job but reality is I had everyone around me fooled and I had myself fooled also. I got very good at taking anything that bothered me and burying it deep in my heart. Instead of actually using the 48 hour rule, I just pretend the problem was never there and instead of keeping short accounts, it turned into a cycle of not being genuine with people. I worked very hard to not act on my hardness of heart- thus externally everything looked fine, but internally I know my heart would dwell on these faults I buried so deep. How can anyone accept any of the love, peace, or joy the Lord offers us if our hearts have this preconceived notion of bitterness swelling up bigger and bigger within us? An overflowing joy and an all-consuming bitterness simply and logically cannot abide together. And I would take joy over bitterness any day. I want to strive to keep my accounts with people short and gain brothers, not enemies.