AND YOU SHALL BE MY DISCIPLES – Lesson #29
Go to Offenders and be reconciled
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.
“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)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Jesus is teaching His disciples Kingdom Truths and up until this point, each teaching is to be applied to oneself. This principal, however, is to be applied to someone else, specifically, a brother or sister in the faith.
The Greatest Responsibility
At first, it sounds as if the believer is to simply make a judgment about someone else’s behavior and correct them. There are few things farther from the truth. This teaching bears the greatest weight and responsibility for the believer.
Before this teaching, Jesus has warned His disciples
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1–3)
The Apostle Paul instructs, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
This matter must be approached prayerfully, soberly and thoughtfully. A great deal of self-inspection and humility should precede before you act. But, once the decision is made, it is to be done carefully with gentleness but resolutely.
Given time, if the brother or sister does not respond in humility and repentance, then you should go back to them with two more witnesses so the facts can be confirmed.
The goal is restoration and reconciliation – not separation
Remembering that Jesus came to serve and not to be served and He died a horrible death to pay for our sins. So, this matter must be approached in love.
James instructs, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
However, if all attempts to bring the offender back into fellowship fails, and if the transgressor “continues in his or her sins and stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10-11
And, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20
Your Brother and Friend,
WARNING TO PASTORS AND ‘CHURCH LEADERS’: Too many churches and pastors use this teaching, this serious matter, as a means to keep ‘parishioners’ or ‘congregants’ in line with the goals, practices and traditions of the local church organization. THIS IS MISAPPLIED and is manipulation and can be spiritual abuse. You are tasked with feeding HIS sheep, not managing your flock. You have no sheep of your own. Our Lord is long-suffering not willing that any should perish. Do not drive people away for your own reasons. You will be held accountable. Sometimes a disagreement is best settled by mutual agreement to separate in peace, if that is possible.