One of the traps we fall into is that of defending ourselves both coming and going. We tell others that “all we ask” is that if someone has a problem with what we are doing, that they simply come to us with it. Talk to me, we say, and not about me. And there is nothing objectionable about this—it is right and biblical. That’s why we say it.
But when we complain about those who do not heed this most biblical advice, we sometimes neglect (since it is to our advantage to neglect) how we may not be as easy to approach as we like to think. There are all kinds of ways to make someone wish they had never tried to talk to you about whatever it was—soured friendships, three-act dramas, counter-charges that effectively change the subject, and more.
You get more of what you subsidize and less of what you penalize. If you say with your words that you really wish that people would come to you directly, but if anybody ever actually does it, you really make them pay, then you need to realize that these subsidies and penalties are administered more potently through actions than through words.
The closer you get to someone, the truer this is. You don’t get into enormous tangles with someone you walked by on the street. This is the sort of thing that happens between husband and wife, between parents and children, between good friends. We all want to hear smooth words, and critical input from those close to us can be pretty rough—which is why we react. But we all need to ask the Spirit to deal with our souls in all things, whether rough or smooth.