Dear friends, the following is a simple illustration I have found very helpful in helping two people work through their problems with each other. Unfortunately, my "arrows" (see small squares)did not transfer, so I added the parenthisis. If you copy and paste this chart, replace the arrows :-)
SOLVING PROBLEMS – Eph.4:31
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”
← → (arrow pointing to left, arrow pointing to right)
Both individuals have kept their pain and their anger inside themselves. Often this occurs because of a mistaken belief that Christians are not to get angry (Eph.4:26) and therefore cannot admit their anger, even to themselves. Or that they have given up on the other person’s willingness to solve the problem. Usually, both have not truly listened to the pain and words of the other because their own pain and words were not heeded. It is a vicious circle which destroys unity. I often think of the two women, Euodias, and Syntyche, that had a personal problem between themselves. The apostle Paul makes a strong point that they were to solve their differences (Phil.4:2).
→ ← (two arrows pointing toward each other)
Both individuals are so angry they hear nothing from anyone, and attack each other’s integrity, sincerely doubting the other’s desire to serve God.
↗ → (arrow pointing to "problem", arrow pointing to right)
One individual is seeking the right direction to work on the problem. He is NOT attacking the other individual. The other is still silent, even denying that there is a problem!
↗ ← (arrow pointing to problem, arrow pointing back to first arrow)
One individual is seeking the right direction to work on the problem – the other is still attacking the other’s efforts. His anger is so deep that he cannot give the other credit for trying to solve the problem.
↗ ↗ (both arrows pointing to problem)
Both individuals are seeking to solve the problem without damaging each other’s faith or confidence in being able to work together for the Lord.
May we all recognize that our hurt feelings stem from anger and pride. When we allow them to fester, we sin. It closes our ears and we begin to feel totally justified in our thoughts and actions, right or wrong. Even the church will suffer, for each individual member wants to heal the breech – and cannot.