“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. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)
God’s desire for His children is to be holy [Leviticus 11:44]. He is grieved by sin because sin ruins people’s lives – both the lives of the sinner and of those around him/her. This planet is nothing like what God had originally had planned for the human race and there is one and only one reason why: sin.
Therefore God wants us to not only stay away from sin ourselves but to confront sin in our midst. God gives His children the authority to deal with sin in today’s passage. Moreover, He commands us to deal with sin. Many of the verbs in today’s passage are in the imperative mood. That is, they are commands.
The first of these commands is go. If our brother (or sister) sins against us we are to go and tell him his fault. This is not optional. But discretion is required. Everyone sins. A lot. We certainly can’t be going to each and every person about each and every sin. That would be impractical, not to mention annoying.
Minor sins should roll off our back because of our love for others [Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:8]. Most sins probably fall into this category. But there are some sins that should not be ignored. When someone is involved in a behavior that is clearly disobedient to God’s word then it must be dealt with as Jesus commands today. Not to deal with it would be unloving.
Frankly, many problems exist in churches all over the world because people do not follow the command Jesus gives in this passage. Too many people don’t want to ‘rock the boat’. They don’t want to appear judgmental. But to think that way is to fall for one of Satan’s lies.
Christians are supposed to judge other Christians. We are not to judge those outside the church [1 Corinthians 5:9-13]. Sadly, many Christians get this backwards and as a result sin inside the church is rendering it impotent and ineffective as the world sees our behavior and concludes that the Bible is likewise impotent and ineffective.
Jesus tells us clearly that talking with our brother or sister is our job. It is not the pastor’s job or a job for a trained professional. We are all commanded to confront the sin of others for their sake, our sake, and the sake of the church.
Many of us do not like confrontation. I am one of those people. We’d rather not say anything because saying something is risky. I understand. But Jesus commands us to. And when Jesus commands us to do something He will give us, through the Holy Spirit, the power to do it.
Over the next few days we’ll study the three steps in this important process.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.