We all miss God’s goal for our lives. I certainly do. Sometimes that is obvious to other brothers and sisters who are disciples of Jesus. I may not see it but others sure do. Yikes. I may not be transparent, but others see my hypocrisy anyway.
Sometimes though, I have dealt with log in my own eye and I clearly see something in a brothers eye that need to be dealt with. It is a big deal and can’t be ignored. It is not just hurting them but it is really hurting others.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” | Matthew 18:15
What should we do about it? Should we announce it to everyone? How about we call them out on Facebook or Twitter? How about we just gossip and tell everyone we know?
Hmm … what to do?
- Jesus has a great idea. This is the perfect way. There is a critical step to take. I am not to call them out. I am not to tell others. If it is a big deal, I should go to them in private and deal with it that way. If I don’t go to them and deal with it in private, I should shut up! Yes, I said that. Zip it zippy.
- We don’t always practice humility. There are times when, deliberately or unconsciously, we offend others and hurt them. Even the Old Testament Law recognized “sins of ignorance”. David prayed to be delivered from “secret faults”, meaning “faults that are even hidden from my own eyes.”
- What should we do when another disciple has sinned against us or caused us to stumble? Our Master gave several instructions.
- Keep the matter private. Approach the person who sinned and speak with him alone. It is possible that he does not even realize what he has done. Or, even if he did it deliberately, your own attitude of submission and love will help him to change his mind (aka repent) and apologize. Above all else, go to him with the idea of winning your brother, not winning an argument. It is possible to win the argument and lose your brother.
- We must have a spirit of meekness and gentleness when we seek to restore a brother or sister. We must not go about condemning the offender, or spreading gossip. We must lovingly seek to help him in the same way we would want him to help us if the situation were reversed. The word restore in Galatians 6:1 is a Greek medical word that means “to set a broken bone.”
Think of the patience and tenderness that is required!
- Matthew 18:15 — “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
- James 5:19–20 —My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Jesus is also clear that may not be the end of it. I may need to take further steps.
But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the church. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you. | Matthew 18:16-17
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Mt 18:16–17). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 65). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.