Relational Tension

Click here for Part 1

There is a passage in the Bible in the book of Matthew, beginning in Chapter 7: First get the log out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your own. Notice that Jesus does not say here, “Don’t ever point out the fault of the other person.” A lot of people think Christianity teaches this. They are wrong. Jesus is not saying “never do this.” Jesus is saying “Never do this FIRST.”

Speak the Truth in Love

The Bible also says we are to “speak truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). How can we do this if we never are to look at or point out the fault in another person? No, pointing out flaws (in love!) in other people is not excluded. You just shouldn’t start there.

There is an ‘order of operations’ (e.g. multiply before adding) in engaging other people when there is relational tension.

  1. First, start with yourself.
  2. Then, proceed to investigate the other person.

All too often, though, you bounce right over yourself, and investigation, and land on the other. And you don’t slow down enough to consider that the what you are sure you know about the other person is wrong.

The bird. The extension of the middle finger. I barely leave my house by car without seeing this, especially in an urban context. What is “the bird?” It’s a declaration about someone else, about the worth of the other person, about their intentions, the kind of person they are, and what you think of them. The bird is a conclusion about someone else. It’s a sentence that ends in a period.

One of the most helpful starting points to improving our thinking and our relationships – at the same time – is to see where we can replace periods with question marks. Especially when that period ends a sentence about someone else.

Here’s a question: what if you are wrong?

Could you be wrong? Say it to yourself : “Could I be wrong?” What does that feel like?

Recognizing an unhealthy situation starts with recognizing an unhealthy perspective. Recognizing an unhealthy perspective starts within yourself; questioning your judgments of other people. “Could I be wrong?” What a great question. Especially when you start with it.

– Matthew