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Archive for December, 2010

Loving Confrontation

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” (Matt 18:15a).

I’ve become convinced over time, and after observation, that this edict given by the Lord Jesus may be the most important in all the pages of Scripture for the promotion and restoration of peace and harmony among the people of God.  In fact, I will state rather dogmatically that were this protocol regarded as it ought to be, the sparks of contention and strife among believers would be hastily extinguished and diffused in almost all cases.  Conversely, abstinence from this simple principle can and does subvert peace, corrode a church, and invalidate her witness like no other influence.  “If your brother sins against you, let him know…and do it in private.”  That’s the force of the meaning here. 

Simple, isn’t it?  Yet, remarkably, rather than abiding by this clarion (and imperative) protocol, the vast majority of those professing Christ live and behave among God’s people as though no such protocol existed.  And rather than discussing an injury directly and in private (“alone” – NAS), in the Spirit of Christ, with an offending brother or sister, some will broadcast the injury widely for it to become infested with a thousand exaggerations as it is advanced from willing ear to willing ear.  As if that weren’t bad enough, evil reports concerning the person who gave the offense begin to circulate, and the injured believer drinks each one in like water; giddy with whatever reports might further indict the offender, and all-too-diligent to further spread those too.  In doing so he or she becomes a thousand times more guilty than the person who gave the original offense. 

This is ludicrous.  The offended becomes guilty of rebelling against Christ in that they’ve not confronted the offender alone over the offense.  In fact, they’ve told everyone except the offender, thus robbing him or her of any opportunity for repentance; robbing one another of restoration, and congruently trampling underfoot the word of God.   Interestingly, this same practitioner of strife would shudder at the expression of something like blatant thievery or sexual immorality…..and yet is no less a rebel against Christ for disobedience to this simple command:  “If your brother sins against you, let him know…and do it in private” (I’m repeating this a lot intentionally).   Clearly, for such a person, scandal is more palatable than loving confrontation.  They haven’t the stomach to reveal a fault because they haven’t the love of Christ, nor a love for their brother or sister abiding in them.  And the sins they begin to amass are among the most hellish in the human heart: Malice, bitterness…even hate.  Far worse conditions, likely, than whatever offense beget them.

Now, if this characterizes you as a common course of practice among the people of God;  If it is standard fare for you to ignore Christ’s commandment here, then I would closely encourage you to no longer mock Him with your flippant use of the title “Lord”, while you systematically seek to disarray His people with your tale-bearing.   If this describes you in a circumstance as of late, resolve in your heart right now to take every thought captive to obedience to Christ.  Flee to Him for forgiveness…..and run to your brother for restoration.  Let all evil speaking be put away from you…..seek peace and pursue it.

Grace to you,

Jeremy

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