So here is the deal. Most Wednesdays I teach and part of our strategy of discipleship is reteaching. Which means that we challenge our students to take what they learn on a Wednesday and introduce it into conversation or get two or three of their friends together for a small groups Bible study using the Revelation Application Guide as teaching guide (its something we are working on and not a finished product). So what better way to readdress the issues we discuss than to put up a blog post on Thursdays that highlights what we have learned on Wednesdays?
When Church People do Bad Things
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17
It’s Not about You
One of the best things that can ever happen is for a believer to truly understand that it is not about being offended or hurt, but about individual relationships with God and each other. Many times we are too easily offended because we love ourselves too much. Self-love is not what should motivate us to seek out a right relationship with our brother in Christ, it is God-love.
For this reason it is important that that offended party (or the one who witnessed the brother in sin) go to him. You should not wait for an apology before you attempt to reconcile with a Christian brother. This models the way that Christ has come to us (Romans 5:8).
You Should Go Alone
It is not about you when someone has sinned against you. It is about their relationship with God. You should approach them about their offense in private in a way that makes much of God and minimizes your pride. You should not use the world of social media (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc…) to defame the person who has offended you. You should seek to reconcile things in the peaceful quiet of a one on one conversation.
The Goal is Restoration
The aim is to gently and persuasively pull your brother back into right relationship with Jesus Christ and others. The gospel is preached and the drama of redemption is played out when we lovingly confront our brother’s sin for the purpose of restoration. Real love does not allow sin to go unchecked but holds others accountable for the purpose of godliness.
I love my daughter and because I do I will prevent her from doing things that will cause her great harm and pain. It is love to restrain and compel my three year old daughter that playing with knives is wrong. It is hate to let her contently play with knives to the point that she causes serious harm to herself or others. In the same way love compels us to reach out to our brother in sin and bring him back into the fold (Matthew 18:12-14).
. . . . . . .
Obviously there is a lot more to this passage that I have time for here. We can pick up the debate about the later stages of this process later, but in the meantime check out some of the following passages that address this issue.
- Matthew 7:1-7
- Galatians 6:1-2
- Romans 12:19
- 3 Things you should know before you Judge your Friends
- 7 Steps of a Unified Group
- When Church Hurts: The Story of How I Came to Forgive the People That Hurt Me the Most