Summary: If we confront people in the right way it will foster restoration.
A Messiah Who Restores Relationships
Text: Matt. 18:15-20
1. Illustration: "Life without confrontation is directionless, aimless, passive. When unchallenged, human beings tend to drift, wander and stagnate. Confrontation is a gift, a necessary stimulation to jog one out of mediocrity or prod one back from extremes."
2. No one enjoys confrontation.
a. We don't like being confronted.
b. We dread having to confront someone else.
c. The reality is there are times when it is inevitable.
3. Jesus teaches us that the best thing to do is...
a. Deal with it in private
b. Deal with it with integrity
c. Deal with it and maintain unity
4. Read Matt. 18:15-20
Proposition: If we confront people in the right way it will foster restoration.
Transition: The most import thing is to...
I. Deal With It In Private (15).
A. Go Privately
1. The key to understanding this text, in my opinion, is seeing it in its context and not separating one verse from the others. However, we must also understand not what it is saying, but also what it is not saying.
2. First Jesus says, “If another believer sins against you..."
a. He says if another "believer," another person who is living for Christ.
b. It is literally a "brother," but it is a reference to anyone fellow follower of Christ regardless of gender.
c. That is the key, this is what we do when another Christian is involved.
d. The second key lies in the word "sins."
e. Sins has the literal meaning of "missing the mark" and is the basic New Testament verb for sin, missing the mark of God's standards.
f. Just as the category of the sinner is inclusive, so is the category of sin.
g. In other words, this does not mean if a person hurts your feelings you go and jump in their face and give them what for.
h. Jesus is talking about when another believer deliberately sins by lying about you, taking something that belonged to you, or cheats you in some way.
i. It's not merely about hurt feelings, it is about sin.
j. The third key is "against you."
k. We need to realize that when we sin we not only hurt God but we also hurt other believers, and this can cause rift between two believers which can hamper or make fellowship impossible.
3. Jesus says when this happens we are to "go privately and point out the offense."
a. Such an encounter must be undertaken with privacy so that if it is resolved, no undue attention will be given to the tragedy of sin committed by a member of the community.
b. The ultimate objective of the encounter is not punishment but restoration — winning over a brother so that he can be restored to the faithful path of discipleship (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 618).
c. It is about restoring someone who is not in right relationship with God.
d. The key is that of the sinning believer becoming right with God and with you.
e. The emphasis is on the spiritual need of the one doing the sinning.
f. "You must conduct your judgment of him privately. Make your cure easy to accept. For the words "point out the offense" mean nothing other than help him see the indiscretion" (Chrysostom, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, vol. 1b, 76).
g. We must understand that the Christian life cannot be lived alone on an island, but that the Christian life is all about community.
h. We are a part of the family of God, and when someone falls into sin they are in danger of being lost as a member of the family.
i. Step number one is all about restoring a member of the family (Horton, 383).
4. Jesus then points out the goal of the confrontation, "If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back."
a. In such a case, the offending brother or sister is not only to be confronted by the one who is offended but also forgiven if he or she repents.
b. The one who is sinned against should approach the offender in a spirit of humility and meekness, and his motive for rebuke should be the restoration of the brother or sister to holiness.
c. It should never come from a spirit of vindictiveness.
d. Jesus said if we do this we will have "won that person back."
e. Won was originally a term of commerce referring to financial gain or profit.
f. Here it refers to the gaining back of something of value that is lost, namely an erring brother or sister (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
g. It's all about restoration!
B. Personal Touch
1. Illustration: I once heard about a confrontation between a young boy and his mother. The mother asked her son, "Young man, there were two cookies in the pantry this morning! May I ask how it happened that there’s only one now?" The boy didn’t flinch but said, "It must’ve been so dark I didn’t see the other one."