Friday, October 21, 2011

Matthew 18 - Dealing with a sinning brother

There are *3* short verses in the Bible that discuss HOW we should handle interpersonal problems. Not only are there verses all over the Bible that teach this, but these *3* verses were spoken by Jesus Himself!

All of Christendom should learn these few short verses. Not only will it prevent small issues like misunderstandings, but they can prevent lawsuits, hate and even WARS if the situation isn't handled Biblically!

Here is a short expositional view of Matthew 18:15-17: - Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

Jesus says that if your brother sins against you (upsets you, steals from you or makes you think they've done something wrong against you), you should go directly to your brother and tell him what it is that upset you. If your brother hears you (or understands your position and apologizes or otherwise explains the situation) then you have gained your brother (or fixed the problem), then you're done. This single step is missed in problem resolution 99% of the time. That old sneaky "flesh" of ours gets in the way some times and we jump to conclusions and blame people for things that didn't actually happen or if they've accidentally happened. Each of us MUST seek to give our brother the opportunity to straighten out the situation, one-on-one. If you chose to skip this step, you are absolutely going to create whole new problems, bigger than the first! If that's your intention, then perhaps you've got bigger problems than you think? This is why it's so essential to handle things Biblically.

16 - But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'

You must go to your brother with an open mind and be ready to listen to what he has to say. But if you go to your brother and he ignores you, belittles you or otherwise tells you that you're wrong and you are not able to make your brother appreciate how you feel or why you feel that way, Jesus tells us to grab 1 or 2 other brothers who are witnesses to the issue or have personal knowledge of the issue and tells us that we should attempt to make a clearer case, so that our brother may better understand what it is that they've done. If you do this and your brother hears the 2-3 witnesses, then you have gained your brother like in verse 15. If you don't approach your brother in the Spirit of love, if you approach your brother as an "angry mob", if you can't approach your brother in "all humility", again, perhaps there are bigger problems than your brother has created?

17 - And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

Jesus tells us that if you have taken 1-2 witnesses with you to speak to your brother and he refuses to admit or acknowledge his wrongdoing, you should THEN and ONLY THEN bring the situation to the attention of the church. At that point, you are devoid of actual witnesses, but you then bring it upon their hearts and their minds that they make decisions on the issues based on how they feel. This is usually a Christian's first step in the problem resolution chain and instead of amicably fixing the problem, you have now had people who weren't involved in the first place making judgment calls on things that can only be based on how they "feel about" the situation. Very rarely will the "whole of the church" decide to handle things Biblically, but instead, emotionally. Very little good ever comes from this step and should be reserved for only the most heinous and unforgivable acts. Jesus goes on to say that if your brother refuses to hear the whole of the church at this point, you should probably try to share the Gospel with your brother, because if he's not willing to love his brother as himself, then he's probably not a Christian and this may be your opportunity to evangelize him and get him in line with God's Will and not his own. Finally, Jesus says that if your brother still refuses to listen, he should THEN be treated as an outcast at that point.

If your brother stole your oxen, your car or even your wife, I can see you going to the church as a whole. If your flesh is on fire for revenge or the ability to "put your brother in his place", perhaps you've got deeper issues than whether or not your brother has "sinned against you"?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 10, that if you get blamed or accused by your brother of something other than what you actually did, at that hour, you shouldn't worry about what you speak, because it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Following the steps the way Jesus lays out is a guarantee that we maintain the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Peace. If you've accused your brother (even in your heart), and you're in the wrong, you owe it to yourself and to your brother to obey Jesus' instructions in these verses. Amen?

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