Have you ever been in a public setting where your name was called out unexpectedly? Many of us have experienced that in one way or another. An acquaintance of mine (let’s call him Joe) tells a story when he was in 8th grade, he had a teacher we’ll call Mr. Smith. This was back in the days when teachers regularly gave swats to their students who misbehaved and Mr. Smith did not appreciate his sense of humor nearly as much as Joe did so he spent a fair amount of time that year in the hallway with the teacher, his paddle, and whatever designated witness he could find at the time. Two weeks before the end of the school year, the teacher announced that he was not going to be giving swats for the next 2 weeks. He apparently was tired of how much class time that was taking so he was just going to make a mark on a piece of paper on his desk every time a person earned a swat, and then the last day or two, he was just going to have a swat marathon of sorts for everyone who had earned one.
Joe decided right then and there, that he was not going to get another swat. He was going to behave. He was going to watch his mouth. He might even pay attention and study a little. And in his mind he was practically a model student. When the day came when Mr. Smith started reading the list of people who needed to receive their swats, Joe found himself agreeing. Yes, that guy deserved one. Yep, she did too. For the most part he agreed with the teacher’s analysis. Until his name was called. He was stunned. So he asked Mr. Smith in the hallway, “What did I do?” To which Mr. Smith replied, “I just thought you needed one.”
Many of us have been in that situation where your name is called publically and you are just shocked. Now picture that in the context of church. You are sitting in church and a letter has come from one of the apostles, one of the designated leaders of the church who is greatly respected by the congregation and people are listening very intently to everything the letter says. Then the apostle talks about two people who are having trouble in the church, they are not getting along for some reason and he calls them out by name—right there in church. Imagine if you were one of the people whose name was called.
That happened in the Philippian church with a letter from Paul (Phil 4). And it provides a great context in which to solve problems biblically. Most of this letter is a thank you letter written to a very good church, but not a perfect church. The latter of which does not exist. Because as soon as you try to bring two people together under the same roof (in any setting), there will be problems. How we deal with them becomes significant. Let me identify 5 key principals from the broader context of Scripture on how we should handle them:
1) God wants problems to be solved in a timely manner (Eph 4:26; Matt 6:34).
2) God wants problems to be solved in a balanced way (cf. John 8–the woman taken in adultery).
3) God wants every Christian to shoulder responsibility in this matter (Eph 4:11-12; Rom 15:14; Gal 6:1).
4) God wants problems to be addressed in the tightest circle possible (cf. Matt 18:15-18; Pro 20:19; Pro 26:20).
5) Biblical problem solving can produce spiritual maturity like few other activities.
There will be not pubic calling out of names here but wise is the person who responds well to what He asks of us through His Word. So, if you have a relationship(s) that need mending and reconciliation, then resolve today to address the problems in a way that pleases Him.