Dealing with offense!
Scripture reading for January 26th: Matthew 18, Psalm 18:20-29, Proverbs 4:24-27
One of the major disruptions in our relationship with others and with God comes from human conflict. We get offended when someone says or does something that violates us or one we love. Instead of dealing with it in the biblical way outlined in Matthew 18, we often take matters into our own hands and either ignore that person, speak evil of them to others, or get revenge in some way. Today we want to remind ourselves of God’s way of resolving offenses.
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ But if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuse to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
Jesus taught His followers the proper way to resolve sin issues with another person. The first step anyone should take is to pray and examine one’s own heart. Jesus had just gotten through dealing with the disciples on who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Pride and lording it over others often causes conflict and offense. He told them that to offend one of the little children by our actions was a very dangerous thing for us and them! (Matthew 18:5-9) The next step was to go to the brother who had sinned against you and show him his fault. This matter was to be settled with as few people involved as possible. Going in a humble attitude and appealing to the person should bring a resolution.
If this did not work, then we should enlist the help of two or three others of mature character. Another discrete meeting with these witnesses and the offenders was to establish the facts and appeal for resolution. If this did not work, the church should be brought together and the offender again appealed to. Refusal here would result in expulsion from membership. God’s desire in all this was forgiveness and restoration. The ultimate goal of expulsion would be restoration and healing! Let’s follow the Bible!