UNITY AND FELLOWSHIP
Loving Lord, you are generous beyond measure. If I were to spend all my day praising you, it would not be enough.
Read MATTHEW 18:15-20
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectSuppose you have done wrong. How do you feel if a friend comes to tell you so? How do you find it easiest to be approached: formally, over a coffee, or by email? Is easiest always best?
This is a well-known passage about how to deal with misbehaving people. It has not always been helpfully applied. Perhaps it is good to note several points which are less than certain, and then to take hold of one which is true forever.
It is not quite clear whom the Lord means by ‘brother’, but it’s not everyone. This teaching is not a general prescription for exercising disapproval. However, the words do seem applicable, for example, to family members and to brothers and sisters in Christ. The lesson then may be that we can only presume to correct others once we have established a trusting relationship. Openness is another clear principle here – and that takes courage as well as humility. It is worth noting that this paragraph is sandwiched between two passages where forgiveness is a key, and the onus is not only upon the more obvious wrongdoer. None of us can presume to deserve better than the pagan and the tax collector (v 17).
Verse 20 is often quoted in prayer meetings, but notice that it seems to apply here to any time when Christians come together. He is with us. Ask Jesus to remind you of this the next time you need to confront someone in love.
Merciful One, I pray for church leaders who deal with difficult situations. Grant wisdom to them as they seek to follow your teaching, and work for reconciliation.
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