Friday, March 18, 2011

Matthew 18:15

Over the past many years, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of a particular Bible verse -- a verse recorded in the book of Matthew -- where Jesus, who originally spoke in the Aramaic language, is recorded, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as follows in Greek:
Ἐὰν δὲ ἁμαρτήσῃ [εἰς σὲ] ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ὕπαγε ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν μεταξὺ σοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ μόνου. ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου·... (Matthew 18:15) -- Click on the colored/shaded words, in this case the Bible verse, for a hyperlink, in this case, a link to one translation of this verse... "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one."
In our Christian relationships with one another there is almost no other verse that is as helpful.  I believe, however, that it needs to be understood in a way that does not apply only to ways that we are "sure" someone has sinned against us.  I believe it needs to be broadly applied.

I have been thinking and praying about this for a long time.

I believe Matthew 18:15 can apply, not only to times when we are sure that a brother or sister has clearly sinned against us, but to those times when we merely suspect it may be so or even feel "annoyed."

God has given the other members of church to do his work, not only in the "world," but also as people God has put in our lives to "work" on us, making us more mature and compassionate. As we go and talk with one another, allowing God to work on our relationships with one another, God's spiritual work among and through us will grow stronger every day.

Here is the way I believe we ought to apply Matthew 18:15 --

If any of us feel at all uneasy with a brother or sister in Christ, someone we know and are in relationship with, go and talk with that person one on one, when you and that person can be alone. If that brother or sister simply listens to you, then the relationship has been repaired.

As the conversation ends, we don't even need to agree with one another -- we just need to listen carefully and prayerfully and as non-defensively as possible. Then we "gain" our brothers and sisters to be even more important in our lives than they were before.

I believe we need to give high priority to our relationships with one another, to the warm feelings, yes, but also to the feelings that may not be so warm and fuzzy. God is at work even when we don't feel comfortable. We need to trust that and be in prayer for one another every day.

Let me know what you think.

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