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“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. 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.’ 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” (Matthew 18:15-17).

How often is this passage ignored? Often, a brother or sister in Christ has been sinned against or think they have, and go to the preacher or the elders and complain. The preacher or elders are expected to go settle this dispute when no one has followed Christ’ direction. Here’s some advice: Do what the Lord said to do! There is no way to justify doing it “your way.”

The sin described above seems to be more of a private thing. That’s why the Lord said to go to them alone and try to handle it. The more people that are drug into the situation, the more likely it is to cause division. Only when the first doesn’t work do you involve someone else. I am convinced that if the first step is taken, more often than not, it will be resolved with success and less tension. Often you will find that there was a misunderstanding and not actual sin. Asking or demanding the preacher or someone else to go handle it has problems: First, that isn’t what the Lord commanded! Second, it can divide other people over this situation and that is to be avoided. Third, it gives the two people a chance to talk and possibly become closer when everything is laid out in the open.

God’s ways are always right! They work. Even when it doesn’t work, occasionally, you will have followed God’s word. The guilt will be on the unrepentant party, not you.

Chris Moore
Clarendon church of Christ
Clarendon, TX

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