Lessons from Matthew 18: Sins Against You
In our last lesson, the question was asked: Who is it that God is calling you to go after? How do you do this? And what if this person God is calling you to go after has sinned against you?
The answer is that you are to do the hard thing and go before them and show them their fault.
This is never an easy thing to do. And if it is, I would question your motive, the true intent of your heart!
The first thing we must do in such situations is to go before God ourselves and ask Him where it is we might be in error. Then we must confess any known sins before Him, for we know that we are not without sins of our own. And then after we have done this, it is important to ask God for His enabling power, His kind and gentle words of conviction. But also ask for His enlightenment of truth to the one receiving such loving correction.
You might say to yourself, loving? YES, LOVING.
You see, the easy thing would be to ignore such behavior, set it aside for comfort’s sake. But that is the easy thing to do, not the loving thing! The loving thing is to love them enough to help them see their way out of it! To go before them with a heart and mind seeking restoration and forgiveness. But it must start with an accurate look at ourselves, a humble assessment of who we are and who they are.
If in doing so, our brother or sister agrees and makes their way back through confession, then we are both elated and God is glorified.
But if this wayward person refuses to listen, should we give up? Jesus said no; go back, but this time take one or two others “who are on your side.” No, not really. Jesus said take one or two others who may be witnesses and give good testimony.
If the person still refuses to listen, tell it to the church. Meaning, take it before a body of believers that they might all come together in prayer and sound biblical teaching and try to win the erring brother or sister over. And if at this point they still refuse to listen and act upon the truth of the situation, Jesus said, “Put them in a time out!”
Basically, treat them as you would an unbeliever, with whom you would not have deep fellowship. You don’t necessarily have to stop talking to them, but you should not have communion or share the things of God as you have in the past.
It is God’s intention to set them aside in order to bring them back. We all know that when we take things away from our children it serves to discipline them or teach them about priorities in life. Well, it’s the same thing for a Christian who has walked in error or slipped into sin and self. God, through the body of Christ, sets them outside the church or the things of the church, the people of the body of Christ, in order that they might finally repent and run home!
Now this does not mean that we alienate them or spread their sin around for all to hear or know. No, it means we keep a safe distance so that we too don’t fall into the same sin trap and that while we are apart we give ourselves to fasting and praying on their behalf. Seeking the throne room of God for them when they can’t or won’t do it for themselves!
And then when they, like the prodigal, return we rejoice with them before God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This is the miracle of God’s restoration. His restoration of the sinning brother or sister to God first and foremost and then to us as part of the family of God!
I read somewhere that restoration is like the setting of a dislocated joint – painful but greatly needed! We must avoid sinful behavior in ourselves or in others in the body of Christ. We must address these issues and work to resolve them.
This is how we glorify God and can be used by Him to turn an erring brother or sister back and assist them in returning to the fold!
Who is it that needs your prayers?
Maybe it’s you!
Are you holding a grudge against another brother or sister in Christ? Are you harboring unjust anger and allowing a root of bitterness to rise up in you? Are your words and actions anything but holy, righteous, and pure? Or has someone else offended or sinned against you? What are you doing about it?
To sit and do nothing is a sin in itself!
Jesus says go, go and tell your brother or sister. And if you have done so and nothing has happened, wait! Wait on the Lord and while you wait, pray!
Seek the throne of God for them and wait and see what miraculous thing the Lord God does! It may not happen here on earth. Are you willing to wait patiently for heaven? For maybe it’s there that you will see the rewards of this prayer and others like it.