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by Pastor Paul Chapman

In a world where people have forgotten how to treat one another, the following list will save us a lot of grief.

Matthew 18:15-17 says, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

We live in a day where accusation and innuendo have tremendous power. No longer is one innocent until proven guilty. It seems that most people today believe we are guilty until proven innocent. That sentiment plays strongly into Satan’s role as the “accuser of the brethren.” Furthermore, good people can get upset with one another over misunderstandings that are not handled biblically.

As God’s children, we must live according to wisdom.

The Bible teaches us how to live in harmony with one another. We should give people the benefit of the doubt before making a judgment. We should give others the respect of going to them personally when something comes up that needs to be discussed.

I found this list years ago. I believe it was in a book by John Maxwell, but I do not remember which one. I have always tried to live by biblical principles in these areas, but this list said them more eloquently than I could have at the time. These have served me well through the years. Also, I have taught the principles to my church over the years. If I had taught these more often, I probably would have saved myself some trouble. These principles will help protect every relationship in our lives. In addition, they can help heal relationships hurt by accusation or sin because they are based on the Bible.

1.    If you have a problem with me, come to me privately.

2.    If I have a problem with you, I will come to you privately.

3.    If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me, then I will do the same for you.

4.    If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go see him together,” and I will do the same for you.

5.    Be careful how you interpret me. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts, for it is easy to misinterpret intentions.

6.    I will be careful how I interpret you.

7.    If it is confidential, do not tell. If anyone comes to me in confidence, I will not tell unless (a) the person is going to harm him/herself; (b) the person is going to physically harm someone else; (c) a child has been physically abused. I expect the same from you.

8.    I do not read unsigned letters or notes.

9.    I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated. Do not let others manipulate you; do not let others try to manipulate me through you.

10. When in doubt, just say it. If I can answer without misrepresenting something or breaking a confidence, I will.

Let us put these simple rules for respect in practice today!

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