“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)
Over the past two days we’ve studied how a Christian should respond to sin committed by another brother or sister in Christ. For most sins we are to simply forgive, forget, and move on. But for bigger sins, especially those that could very well harm the sinner, we are to lovingly confront them in an effort to extricate them from their destructive behavior. At first we should do this in private. If that does not work, we are to involve others.
I’m sure as all of us read these words from Jesus we placed ourselves in the position of the one who is sinned against. We probably think of at least a few people in our lives that we’d like to confront right now about their sinful lifestyle. I bet none of us, though, imagine ourselves as the sinner in this scenario. But we should.
There is no one in this world who is perfect. We all make mistakes. A lot of them. Some are quite small. Others are quite large. And some can hurt ourselves and others. And it just may happen that we find ourselves being the one being confronted by another Christian about our sin. We need to react appropriately.
We can tell what the appropriate reaction is from this passage. We are to listen to what our other brothers/sisters have to say. We are not to be defensive. We are not to push them away. We should hear them out and keep an open mind. They may just be right.
As we’ve learned, confronting others in the manner Jesus described is not easy. It is uncomfortable and risky. That is why hardly anyone ever does it. If we find ourselves being confronted about sin in our life we need to understand the deep love and concern the other person has for us, for it is only a deep love that could motivate someone to overcome that uneasiness and risk.
We should consider it a blessing when we find ourselves being the confrontee rather than the confronter. If someone has the guts to confront us about sin in our life we can be sure they love us and care about us.
This is exactly the way Jesus lived. He spoke about sin all the time even though most people didn’t want to hear it. But, being God, He knew we had to hear the truth because without knowing and accepting the truth about ourselves we could never be free from the prison that sin puts us in.
It is wise to accept advice and discipline as Proverbs 19:20 (and others) tells us. The word “discipline” in this verse is the Hebrew word מוּסָ ר (pronounced: moo-sawr’) which means “instruction; correction”. When we accept corrective instruction we are made better. Only a fool would dismiss helpful advice [Proverbs 8:33, 12:15].
Ignoring sin in others or ourselves is not helpful, despite what the world thinks. They promote “tolerance” which is just a euphemism for indifferent selfishness. The world can only be made better when we confront others about their sin and when we allow ourselves to be confronted about our own sin [Proverbs 27:17].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.