When Someone Sins
15 If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. 16 But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. 17If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church. Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.
Allowing and Not Allowing
18 I promise you God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but God will not allow anything you don't allow. 19I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.
I’ve never met anyone who enjoys confronting others. Even calling it by the more positive term, admonishing, doesn’t make the task any more enjoyable. Telling another person that we have been hurt by them, slighted, felt abused or sinned against is just an unpleasant, difficult conversation to have; a conversation that most of us would prefer to avoid. It is as if we feel that we have a duty to “suck it up”; to absorb the pain of the other. We may even feel as if we are at fault for feeling slighted.
Jesus offers another perspective. Pointing out another’s fault is a rare and precious act of love. There are very few who will offer such a gift precisely because the cost is so high. People even find it hard to let others know they have food stuck between their teeth or that they’re “flying low.” But I’m sure all of us who have received such news have appreciated being told even though it may have been awkward for the teller and the receiver.
If sin is never confronted in God’s kingdom, if believers refuse to speak the truth to one another in love, if we simply dismiss or absorb the offenses of another, we set them up for greater disappointments as their sin grows to become a habit. We weaken the moral fiber of the church and diminish the attractiveness of the kingdom. How many heresies, moral falls and church splits might have been avoided if someone had spoken up early on when someone’s sin was still but a bud and not allowed to grow roots and flower?
Loving, righteous God, You love us too much to allow us to remain in our sin. Yet, we do not love enough to afford the same compassion and grace to others. Give us courage to be true friends. We ask this in the name of our friend, Jesus, Amen.