Deep thoughts, be prepared!

by frazzledmama on November 19, 2008

It’s been a rough week for me and I am really looking forward to my time off later this week.  But I wanted to share some thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind. 

I think sometimes we forget our responsibilities toward one another, Christians that is.  We get so wrapped up in ourselves in our pain, in our “offendedness” that we forget the instructions that Jesus gave us to deal with these situations when they arise. 

Matthew 18:15-20

 15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

 16“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.

 17“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.

So, here are a few things that I have learned about this passage. 

It says if your brother SINS.  Not if your brother (or sister) hurts your feelings, or makes a choice that you think is unwise, it says if your brother SINS.  I do not believe that this passage is speaking about our day-to-day sins, you know the “Man I can’t believe I did that, and I claim Christ”. Hopefully, those things are worked out on our own, seeking forgiveness when we know we have offended.  I think this passage is talking about habitual, unrepentant, or unrealized sin. Black and white sins, then we are to go to that brother (or sister) and show them their fault in PRIVATE.  If they will listen, (my paraphrase) great, settled, done!  It is my job as the offended party to go to the person, not the other way around.  Sometimes the issue that we see as sin, for example a lie, might just be a misunderstanding.  If we go to the person individually and work it out, whether it be a lie or a misunderstanding, it is settled.  What happens when we start talking to other people?  What happens when I say to a third uninvolved party, “So and so said ______fill in the blank____.  Can you believe that?  How could they lie that way?”  Now, there is a third party in the mix, who shouldn’t be and many times that is how gossip begins.  Now, let me stop here for a moment and say, there is a difference between the scenario I just described and going to a trusted friend in confidence and telling them the situation, in hopes of receiving wise council.

Ok, back on track, now if you go to that person individually and nothing is settled, then you go back to the person with 1 or 2 more people, hoping that the person will listen, and see that it’s not just one person who sees the issue of sin in their life.  If the person still refuses to listen, it must be brought before the church and if there is still no repentance, you must put the person out of your fellowship.  I can remember only 2 times this kind of discipline had to be carried out in my 25 years of walking with the Lord.  He knows how people work, and that is why he has given us this direction!  How many times have people been confronted about an area of sin in their life and been immediately repentant?  Many! 

At this point many will say, “Wait, who am I to judge?”  or “It’s not your job to judge someone else.”  Hang on to your hats, because scripture says otherwise…

I Corinthians 5:9-13

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.

10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

Yes, we are not to judge the world, that is, non-Christians, we are to show them the love of Christ.  We are not to exclude ourselves from them, how else will we share the Lord with them?  Notice in verse 11 it says not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is sexually immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler ( to use abusive language), a drunkard, an extortioner (one who obtains from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power).  Paul is telling them not to associate with those who claim to be Christians, but have a constant pattern of sin in their life. 

James 2:19-20

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

 If we claim to be a Christian, but our actions don’t match our words, watch out!!!!!

The  intention of judging those in the body of Christ is not to be condemning, but purifying and building one another up. 

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. 
      

So, we just go in and blast our brothers and sisters in Christ, right?  Wrong! Let’s look at another verse

Ephesians 4:14-16

14As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

So, we are no longer to be children but speak the truth in love.  We must have love when we confront someone about the sin in their life.  Is that easy, especially when we are the offended party?  Umm, no!  But look at the next words, “we are to grow up”.  It shows maturity and growing up in the Lord for us to speak the truth in love. There have been many times when I could not speak the truth in love, and so I held my tongue. But I need to grow and mature in the Lord so that when these situations arise in my life, I can speak the truth in love.  When we don’t confront issues, it might not affect the other party, but it sure does affect us! Sometimes, it eats us up inside, and causes the relationship to be damaged. Remember what we talked about regarding Grace and Truth? Truth without grace is harsh and grace without truth leads to selfishness.  We MUST have balance when bringing the truth to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

One last word, my encouragement to you is to spend time in prayer before such a confrontation.  God says he will grant us wisdom, if only we will ask for it. 

 James 3:17

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

We need the “wisdom from above” to restore relationships with our fellow believers.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rebekah November 19, 2008 at 11:26 pm

That was really good! I am reminded from past bible studies(with you) that we should be grounded in the truth, not our perceptions and only the Lord can offer truth and wisdom!Miss you lots! Bekah

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