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How To Clear Up Misunderstandings, Work Out Differences and Recover Our Brother Out of Sin – Matthew 18:15-17

conflict1Especially as we enter the Memorial season, our hearts and minds reflect on our relationship with Jehovah, Jesus and our brethren.  Have we been faithful?  Have we grown in the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Have we been able to work out our differences with our brethren or do we harbor bitterness or anger.  Have we been able to forgive or do we hold a grudge against our brother or sister and has damaged our fellowship relationship to the point where we can’t look them in the eye and we won’t talk with them any more?

Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV) “ 23 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

If we have wronged or offended our brother, we should not presume that our loving sacrifice and service to be accepted by the Lord until we have made due apology and recompense in full.

Matthew 18:15-17 (NKJV) “ 15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

The focus of this passage is not punitive, but rather it is rehabilitative.

Verse 15 says, “If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”   long the same line, Galatians 6:1 (NASV) says “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…”

If we could summarize Matthew 18:15-17 in one word, it would be “communication.”  This passage is not about getting justice for yourself. It is not about proving to everyone that you are right and your brother is wrong. This passage is about the loving communication steps to save your brother. These three steps are only to be followed through to completion when the brother’s eternal welfare is in danger or when the ecclesia is in danger from the brother’s sin.

As Paul says, 1 Corinthians 5:5-6 (NASV) “5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?”

Notice two important point:

1) The purpose of withdrawal of fellowship is “so that his spirit may be saved.”

2) “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” If the brother’s sin is not dealt with, the whole congregations will be in danger of becoming corrupted by the permissive attitude regarding the sin.

All too often the problem is simply a misunderstanding which can hopefully be cleared up at the first step. Sometimes both parties are at fault, in which case honesty and humility will guide them to a solution.

To summarize, the focus of Matthew 18 is saving both our brother and congregations from sin which would break their fellowship with the Lord. It is not about getting justice for ourselves.

Find audio discussions on Matthew 18:15-17 below.  These audios cover how to deal with differences and resolve problems with our brethren, family and anyone.

Allen Springer

Panel Discussion: George Tabac, Joe Megacz, Tom Rugirello, Kris Knapczinski and Peter Karavas

Panel Discussion: Ken Rawson, Giesinger, Gaunt, Tryna

Rodney Hugleman

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