Grace Not Grudges
Written by Felicia McKnight
Matthew 18:15 NIV
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
While attending my women’s devotional group meeting the Holy Spirt spoke to us and said, “We have to extend grace and not grudges.” It held a profound meaning to our topic of discussion; however it hit home with me and some experiences that I encountered in my own life.
I went to the doctor for a problem that I had been experiencing. I typically go to this particular office because I am able to get a same day appointment, and I am normally in and out within 45 minutes to one hour. On this particular day my wait time was extremely long. I went through the normal check in process. I was called back within 15 minutes. My vital signs were taken, and then I was placed in a room colder than Alaska….at least it felt that way. While in there shivering I brought a book I had been reading. I managed to read two long chapters of the book, check my work e-mail, my personal e-mail and stare at the wall and still no one had come in to see me. I had been at the appointment an hour already and I had grown frustrated, because I needed to get back to work for a meeting and I had missed lunch. I stepped out of the room to see if I had been forgotten about, and the medical assistant informed me I would be seen next. Next turned into another 15 minutes of waiting. I stepped out again and just as I was stepping out the doctor was coming out of the room and I was told she would be there shortly.
Now my disclaimer to this story is that I can be a confrontational person in the sense that if I experience a problem with someone or something I make it known at that time. I don’t like having to hold on to things for days or weeks unless I just have to. If I am extremely upset I have learned to allow time to cool off so that I don’t say words that can’t be taken back. In this case I was more frustrated than angry until the next scene of this story took place.
The doctor entered the room and I let her know I was extremely frustrated that I had to wait an hour for her to come into the room. While I waited no one bothered to inform me that the wait time was longer than normal. With an attitude she corrected me and told me that I had “only” waited 40 minutes and she proceeded to tell me about her issues and the issues at the clinic. As she proceeded to talk in an unprofessional tone my anger level quickly elevated. A million things were going on in my mind. First, of all I couldn’t believe the doctor was talking to me that way. As a patient I did not care about those things. I just wanted the medical team to display some customer service and for my problem to be treated. It’s safe to say I escalated from frustrated to angry really quick and my issue still had not been looked at. Also, running through my mind is that I had to remember I am also an employee of this organization. As mad as I was I had to pray for Jesus to guard my tongue so that I did not say anything that would misrepresent Christ nor get myself in trouble with my employer.
At this point I was so mad I didn’t even want this woman to touch me at all. Now I am angrier because I’ve wasted over an hour waiting and now debating with this woman who next had the nerve to ask if I still wanted to be treated. I took one of those deep breaths that is also a quick prayer, because I was trying my best not to go off on the lady and I was determined I was going to be treated but it wasn’t going to be by her. Before I could say anything she told me she did not need the attitude from me and was going to get her boss. Once again I was blown away because I did not curse this woman out nor did I have a nasty attitude with her. I just simply expressed my concern with the lack of customer service and now her attitude. For me my prayer was answered immediately, because little did she know my letter of complaint was already drafted in my head to him.
Her boss, the Medical Director, finally came in. At this point I was boiling yet I remained as calm as possible. Woo Sah! I let him know what had taken place and that her behavior was completely unprofessional and unacceptable. When he seen my badge he went on to give me some inside information as to why things were so slow that day. As a Human Resources professional who knows what goes on behind the scenes I could totally understand from an operational standpoint why things were backed up, but as a patient everything that had taken place was still unacceptable especially this woman’s behavior. The Medical Director was very compassionate and sympathetic. He treated me and I was well on my way. I had some other test that I had to do and I was even extended favor in the process so I didn’t have to wait even longer. Before I left the office the Medical Director asked if it was OK for him to bring the physician back in so we could all talk and that’s where our scripture for today comes in. Yes, I was going somewhere with this story.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:15-16 NIV)
The physician returned to the room and we had a brief conversation. I reminded them that I may have been an employee of the organization and can understand the behind the scenes stuff that caused this incident. However as a patient and if I was anyone else this once again was not acceptable and I expressed all of my concerns about the entire visit. She apologized to me in front of the Medical Director. I did let him know that she has provided care to me before and I’ve never had this type of issue. Then something strange happened. The physician asked the Medical Director to leave so we could both talk. I had no clue what was about to take place next but let’s just say I was praying I remembered I was a Christian with whatever was going to take place.
The physician went on to tell me about the bad day she was having and her frustrations with being overbooked that day and some other things. She sincerely apologized and said that when I was upset my complaint was the spark that lit her fire causing her to become defensive and go off on me. When she explained herself that is when grace kicked in. Ultimately she was just having a bad day. I can understand that as we all have bad days from time to time that cause our emotions to get the best of us. I was able to receive her apology and let her know that there were no hard feelings. After we talked a little more she even hugged me as I walked out of the door. This experience ministered to me after I cooled off and looked for God in the situation.
As a Christian when I heard her excuses the first time I could have been more compassionate yet I was not. I was grateful that God used the Medical Director to allow the physician and myself to talk out our differences. I was also grateful that I was open to the idea as I know most people would not have been. We were able to work things out and now all is well.
My story was in a professional setting, but it certainly applies to all relationships. As we go through life we will encounter many confrontations with individuals. If we handle them appropriately then our Christian light can shine. Our scripture reminds us today that God wants us to work things out with others. He wants us to be at peace with one another. “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NLT) Life is too short to hold on to the hurt, pain, and frustrations people cause us. It is a blessing when we can discuss our issues with the other party and walk away in peace. It is a blessing to be at peace with someone rather than walking around with negative feelings towards that person which often leads to unforgiveness or what we may call a grudge. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18 NIV)
I remember prior to my doctor’s office experience I went to someone to address their faults and the hurt they caused me. Out of that we were able to have a peaceful conversation and I was so full of peace. Since I genuinely cared about that friendship I didn’t want to keep walking in silence with those unresolved issues. I trusted that if I prayed and allowed God to go before me then all would be well.
I like the message version best:
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. (Matthew 18:15 Message)
When we find ourselves in challenging circumstances with people we have to pause and ask God how He wants us to handle the situation. According to scripture God wants us to attempt to work it out and be at peace with our neighbor. We can approach people in love and have civilized conversations to work out the matters of our heart. The bible says that if they listen then you know you have a friend. It is such a blessing, a joy and a peace when you are able to walk away with a matter resolved and a friendship still intact.
Who do you need to resolve matters with on today? Pray and ask God to guide you on your approach and prayerfully you too can walk away with a friend. Be Blessed and Encouraged on today.
Heavenly Father, I lift up all of us who have experienced some hurt, disappointment, and frustration from someone we care about. For those of us holding on to it I pray that you will guide us on an approach to resolve these matters with that individual. Guard our mind and our lips to say the right words that will bring forth a heavenly resolution. We pray for both parties that hearts would be softened and receptive to the conversation and the matters at hand. We know that you are the God who heals and may your healing touch be on each of these relationships. Sometimes people do have bad days that cause the emotions to win over our character. Give us the wisdom and strength to extend forgiveness, compassion and grace. May grudges never be an option. In Jesus Name. Amen