I was reading Matthew 18 again today. This truly is a tough verse to follow fully yet packed with wisdom.
Read the first part of the verse if you have time.-- Matthew 15:15
IF a brother or sister SINS again you —- there must be time with God alone to determine the IF, and discussion prior even with a mentor or friend is encroaching on gossip or slander of the other. Now if clarity of “what is sin is needed “ that may be sought for clarity and never ever mentioning the offenders name or referring in general to them. I believe we can have no part of naming names.
Example: someone borrowed my pen two weeks ago and hasn’t return it.
The verse seems to instruct us as advisors to point to this first verse. We advise them to pray and determine is there really sin then to go to them and ask them about the pen and do so gently and in love. The Bible says to “do this privately”, therefore we cannot go at this point, for even moral support. That violates this verse.
Example: Joe, I loaned you an expensive pen for your meeting last week and have ask you to return it. I am asking to have it return shortly, is there a problem that occurred while you had it. I am sure we can work it out as it I just a pen.
The Second step is to take one or two along. Interesting. One or two which appears to support the privacy of the first step. I am thinking about the wisdom of Solomon with the baby and the claim of two mothers (1 Kings 3:16-28).
The wisdom is so clear. If we get involved before step one a violation occurs in God’s instructions, and I now see how this could be used as unbiblical strengthening of the offense.
Example: I am so anger with Joe he stole my pen, I even took Phillip along with me to talk with Joe and Phillip agreed that he was lying about the pen.
The wisdom seems very sound. If the offense is that great in the offended parties mind then it should be great enough to warrant the strength to address it. If the courage isn’t present, maybe it just simply isn’t a big enough deal. In all Godly things Phil 4:13 promises the strength and we should be advising as such.
There are many ways to address this in our digital world. Maybe, though I see the possible problem, a text or email may be send. I would suggest a public setting but private conversation is best.
This verse links perfectly with 1 Tim 5:19, that we discussed yesterday as it sets up properly the establishment of two or three witnesses. I love when God’s Word crosses books but aligns perfectly.
Now if this “pen” issue is still not resolved it is much easier on the church leaders.
Example: Did you go and talk with Joe privately— yes—- did you take Phillip at a later time —- yes and Phillip what did you experience—-
Now we can take action as a church, since Phillip a non offended party is able to provide testimony about the situation.
Even in all this we are called to deal with love and gentleness.
Hope it provides clarity for all of us, as Christians, as leaders we are going to be confronted with this time and time again.