- Let’s avoid gossiping.
- Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.
- Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
- Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
- Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.
- Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.
But I would add the insight of Dr. Donna Thoennes, professor in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola and the wife of one of my foremost mentors, Dr. Erik Thoennes (himself a systematic theology professor at Biola).
In short, Erik tells me that whenever a student comes to Donna and says, "Such and such a person has been doing such and such a thing recently and it is really troubling me...", Donna's first response is, "Oh gosh that's rough- what did she do when you told her that?"
Poignant, isn't it?
One of the most frustrating things for me when I counsel people about problems they are having with other Christians is how they are willing to confront the apparent offender personally. Excuses abound, but the bottom line is that as long as it is done in a godly, grace-providing way, this almost always is the necessary first step.
One last thing: when I confront others myself, I almost always discover that I have sinfully contributed to the problem in a way I had not even realized and am accordingly led to repentance. It is just one more way we absolutely need each other for sanctification.