Even when those who wrong us do not repent, we forgive…willingly and with love.
Even those who wrong us insist we did what we did not do, we forgive.
Even when our forgiveness gets trampled on and scorned, we forgive again. Even when we face ugly rumour-mongering and scorn, we forgive: hate cannot defeat those who trust in God.
Even if we have to obey the Bible and tell the church of someone’s misdeeds because of ongoing unrepentance, it is with forgiveness and humility…knowing we could so easily be in the same position.
Even if we tell the church of someone’s ongoing sin, as per Matt 18, it means loving that person…never cutting them off or shunning them …loving them back into the grace of God.
And oh your sins have been paid in full ….at great price…will you not return to Him? Aya..you know who you are…. please return to Jesus.
This Matt 18 piece is written in the context Aya’s (not his real name) persistent and ongoing harm of the writer…ALWAYS behind her back, and refusing to stop.
People who recognise this pastor will try to bring him back to the love and peace of Christ. The writer prefers not to engage with the man personally because of the circumstances that caused it, but will continue to pray for him to find peace and to never act against Christ again in this way. It is Christ he has falsely accused and Christ he has acted against. Whatever you do to the least of these…..
( She has recently tried to engage with him personally, according to Matt 18 with witnesses, but he has refused to answer or apologise for his accusations.)
ALL THE WRITER WANTS is a PUBLIC apology for false public accusations, and restitution.
Her head swam and her tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth. She was not sure if she was upright or if the world was real any more.
The words echoed hollowly in Miriam’s head. “I have told the elders that you have been inappropriate to me ….all those messages you sent me ….”
She swallowed. Those messages were messages gently asking Aya, especially as lead elder, to stop being too friendly to her. Besides which, he had made his accusations public before speaking to her on an individual level….Matt 18 made it clear what the process of dealing with issues was.
It was a pretty normal issue for most men to feel attracted to women and to be slightly too friendly – even those she did not notice – but Aya was more close to Christ than most, and she needed him to see her merely as a sister.
She had been so extremely careful every single second of very contact with him to treat him only as a brother. And to pray and pray and pray for him and his dear, darling, beautiful, loving wife Rania.
She had even asked him to stop having contact with her altogether and he had simply replied that it was not neccessary.
It now seemed like he was being vengeful for her asking him to no longer have contact with her.
She still had those letters in her possession where she had written and asked him to step back – she could show them to anyone who asked…on each and every single accusation he had made.
None of it had bothered her because she knew he was so close to Jesus he would overcome it easily.
However, even more puzzling and frustrating was his seeming to interpret any interaction on her part as expressing interest in him. Even business messages.
Satan was really playing with him. This was normal for many men to mistakenly think that a confident woman was expressing interest in himself….it was not abnormal…even in men she did not like, but it was still frustrating.
She had been so gentle and kind and generous in her attitude toward him because that is what God wanted.
She had initially just ignored it and pretended nothing had happened, but had learnt to withdraw more and more and more…..it seemed like the merest bit of contact set him off.
It had been such a hypocritical accusation, because, out of hundreds and hundreds of entirely appropriate handshakes and hugs, Aya’s physical contact on one or four occasions had also not been entirely good, but it had been marginal and often referred to by other men as flirting, (or by some as grooming) and it had only surprised and saddened her….she knew it would go away without needing to address it.
What puzzled her the most was how his thinking could be so worldly in this. He was so obviously close to Christ … it just did not fit.
How could he even THINK anyone would be expressing interest in a married man more than as a brother?
That he would even THINK that she would want him to destroy himself, herself, the church, people’s faith, his wife and children; his and her reputation; their careers; their relationship with the Lord; and to quite literally kill her parents with sorrow….was beyond belief.
It was utterly bizarre. For her it had been a place of encountering Jesus. In His Holiness and Love and Kindness.
At any rate, she had said so many times that she was uncomfortable with Aya’s interpretation of her and with his behaviour that this was a violent shock.
She had even tried to ask another pastor to talk to him about it but he had simply been abusive toward her.
At any rate, she had finally said that it might be best if they didn’t have contact any more.
And that’s when he had finally come out with this….public accusations of an extremely serious nature. He has never even mentioned any issues before she had said to him that perhaps it was best not to have contact with him any more.
It felt like she had been violently and publicly raped…heaping this FALSE PUBLIC shame on her. Not only by him BUT BY EVERY MAN WHO HAD LISTENED TO HIS ACCUSATIONS.
She had struggled to understand other women when they had said the same thing when they had had false accusations made about them…now she understood too well. Public shaming and humiliation was an exceptionally violent and disembowelling act, and he such a gentle, humble man.
Destroying reputation was very destructive too….destroyed people completely. Destroyed their relationships …sometimes even before they began. Their livelihoods. Their families. Their ability to survive in this life. Reputation was never about what others think about a person…it was about community and about survival. That’s why the Bible viewed it as a fate worse than death.
He continued, “You must be quite insane to be friends with a married man.”
Miriam stared at him speechless. He knew that she was good friends with many married men…it was essential in her skill as herbalist. As was he with many women. It did not make sense. She wasn’t worried about his accusations of insanity…he was just hurt. Little did she know he was to spread it far and wide that she was completely insane -in an act of extraordinary and unusual vindictiveness and – much like Amnon’ s change of heart. It was so far out of character for Aya that something else HAD to be going on.
“You are such a loner, ” Aya added savagely.
Eyes wide, she started to breathe in short gasps. A feeling of panic rose in her. She was far more social than many other widows, even though it was difficult being single. A single person was still an outcast in this part of the world. It didn’t really matter…it was not a big issue for her, but to blame her for the actions of others was a shock.
She had never judged him….she did not know what it meant to be a man, so it was not her place to judge. She simply prayed that he and his wife would find joy in each other to the exclusion of herself.
Later, she was to learn that he had accused her behind her back of unusually filthy and vile things that simply had no basis in truth….Things he has had not even discussed with her or queried with her whether his perception was correct… It was profoundly distressing. Things that were beyond her understanding as a woman. (In our day and age his behaviour is known as sexual harassment.)
She did not judge men for their issues, but to impute something so repulsive to her was beyond her comprehension. Men were very different but she did not think that they would go around deliberately destroying a woman’s good name because they were angry with her.
Were they deliberate lies? She doubted it, but he did seem determined to protect his image at any cost. This was not him. He was just not LIKE this.
She was always truthful…..always….. so it was hard to accept that he would lie about things like this – especially as he seemed a truthful man. He seemed to fear God. Only people who did not fear God lied. This was SO out of character. He was such a gentle, kind, godly man!! He must be out of his mind in some sense. Satan had to be toying with him as with a mouse.
She had a completely clear conscience before God about how she had interacted with him….100%. She did not understand people who were not 100% self-aware. Examining one’s heart under the Holy Spirit led to a profound awareness of even the slightest sin…did people here not do that? She couldn’t understand.
She did not know how deep and bitter his hatred and malice were to become.
She was also to learn shortly after that what it was to be shunned… – by an entire congregation of people. Based on the slander that he had spŕead.
Word had spread rapidly, and she was judged as being in the wrong, even though she was famous for her impeccable character. It was not something she could boast about, because it was Christ in her, but all the same…to take away someone’s name like that was to destroy her continually….every day for years to come…socially, work-wise and in many unseen ways.
Right now, all she could do was leave…betrayal was to lead to profound betrayal by other elders in other places…persecution by people in Jewish ekklesia seemed to be her lot. Strangely, she was to find refuge with the Samaritans.
I do beg the man’s friends to help him in this…..because he has to face a LIVING God who is a CONSUMING FIRE and will not tolerate wilful disobedience such as making false public accusations without repentance. God has already spoken in striking the church with lightning… Will he hear God’s voice? For Aya’s salvation’s sake, please get him to publicly apologise to the person concerned and to make financial restitution for the destruction he caused. Perhaps then revival will break out in South Africa….when pastor’s start repenting in tenderness of heart and mind.