Scripture: Matthew 18:15-20
15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Meditation: What's the best way to repair a damaged
relationship? Jesus offers his disciples spiritual freedom and
power for restoring broken or injured relationships
Don't brood over an offense - speak directly and privately
What can we learn from this passage (Matthew 18:15-20) about how to mend a damaged relationship? If you feel you have been wronged by someone, Jesus says the first step is to speak directly but privately to the individual who has done the harm. One of the worst things we can do is brood over our grievance. This can poison the mind and heart and make it more difficult to go directly to the person who caused the damage.
Pray for the offender - for healing and
Lastly, if even the Christian community fails to bring about reconciliation, what must we do? Jesus seems to say that we have the right to abandon stubborn and obdurate offenders and treat them like social outcasts. The tax-collectors and Gentiles were regarded as "unclean" by the religious-minded Jews and they resorted to shunning them. However we know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus often had fellowship with tax-collectors (as well as other public sinners), ate with them, and even praised them at times! Jesus refuses no one who is open to receive pardon, healing, and restoration.
Set no obstacle in seeking to heal your brother's wound
When you are offended, are you willing to put aside your own grievance and injury in order to help your brother's wound? The Lord Jesus wants to set us free from resentment, ill-will, and unforgiveness. His love both purifies and sets us free to do good to all - even those who cause us grief. The call to accountability for what we have done and have failed to do is inevitable and we can't escape it, both in this life and at the day of judgment when the Lord Jesus will return. But while we have the opportunity today, we must not give up on praying for those who cause us offense. With God's help we must seek to make every effort to win them with the grace and power of God's healing love and wisdom. Do you tolerate broken relationships or do you seek to repair them as God gives you the opportunity to mend and restore what is broken?
"Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of your healing love and peace. Give me wisdom and courage to bring your healing love and saving truth to those in need of healing and restoration."
1 O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a
joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it; for his hands formed the dry land.
6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!
8 Harden not your hearts, as at Mer‘ibah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: If someone
has done you injury, by Augustine of Hippo (354-430
"If someone has done you injury and you have suffered, what should be done? You have heard the answer already in today's scripture: 'If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.' If you fail to do so, you are worse than he is. He has done someone harm, and by doing harm he has stricken himself with a grievous wound. Will you then completely disregard your brother's wound? Will you simply watch him stumble and fall down? Will you disregard his predicament? If so, you are worse in your silence than he in his abuse. Therefore, when any one sins against us, let us take great care, but not merely for ourselves. For it is a glorious thing to forget injuries. Just set aside your own injury, but do not neglect your brother's wound. Therefore 'go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone,' intent upon his amendment but sparing his sense of shame. For it might happen that through defensiveness he will begin to justify his sin, and so you will have inadvertently nudged him still closer toward the very behavior you desire to amend. Therefore 'tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother,' because he might have been lost, had you not spoken with him. " (excerpt from Sermon 82.7)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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