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Unintentional Harm

A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I returned to our house after Sunday morning worship services. As I exited my car in the garage, my nose immediately sensed a foul odor, that of some dead creature. Because it happened before, my first thought was that a mouse had partaken of the “treats” left behind by the exterminators and had crawled somewhere and expired. I looked in the places I thought would hold the evidence and I found nothing. I continued to smell the dead creature throughout that day and the next morning. On Monday, I decided to leave my car outside the garage. As I was going back into the garage on foot, I saw a gruesome sight. A frog was flattened just within reach of my back tire. Evidently I had backed over it in mid-hop on the previous day. With the temperatures warming and nature taking its course, the source of the odor was obvious. While I did not intend to hurt the frog, my actions resulted in harm anyway. Not only that, but my life was adversely affected as a result of my actions.

Pondering the incident, I thought about human relationships and how we can harm one another without intending to do so. What’s more is that sometimes relationships can begin to “stink” and the person who caused the injury has no idea of what they have done.

Relationships, as intended by Jesus, are supposed to have “built-in repair systems,” so that a person who offends is to be approached by the offended person and informed of his or her trespass. The action is to be taken quickly, with no animosity, and forgiveness is to be eagerly offered. Sadly, such repairs are rarely made. Friends have been separated for days, months, even years because one friend unknowingly hurt the other and was never told that the offence was committed, let alone held with such deep animosity. It was only after the relationship began to “stink” that th

e offender knew something was wrong. Even then, he or she still not have been informed of the cause. This scenario has been played out countless times. Similar things happen in marriage and family conflicts.

There seem to be two possible reasons so many people do not follow scripture in resolving conflict: 1) They don’t know about Jesus’ words or, 2) They like things the way they are and the control they have. While I would like to think the reason is the former, I greatly fear it is the latter.

“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city” (Proverbs 18:19). “If a brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother” (Matthew 18:15).

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