Summary: People of God make up a family, and families sometimes ’feud’. Jesus lays out some helpful rules for restoration - 1. Personal Effort 2. Plural Effort 3. Public Effort - Link inc. to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint.
Get Along Children
The beginning of this chapter tells us how to enter the family of God...by humbling ourselves as little children before the Lord. The rest of the chapter tells us how to get along with all the other children in our new family, and again there is a great need for humility.
It only takes two to have a family feud, but the more children there are, the more likely that you will be rubbed the wrong way. Well, the family of God is a big one, so no wonder there’s a big need for this passage.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
It’s shameful and disgraceful when children of God, washed in the blood, forgiven of a multitude of sins can’t find it in themselves to work out minor grievances with one another.
1. Confronting another
• Make a personal effort
v. 15 There has to be a personal effort made. The key word is ‘alone.’ The Lord didn’t say to write them a letter or place a phone call, but go personally, let them hear the tone of your voice and see the look in your eye. And go to THEM only. Some people will go alone all right, but to just about anyone else OTHER than that person. This is sin!
Go with the attitude of winning a friend, not winning an argument. Did you know you can win an argument but still be the big loser?! How many guys here have ever won an argument w/ your wife and when you did, you wished you hadn’t?
If you are witnessing to someone and you allow it to degrade into an argument, it’s a lost cause. You always need to be building bridges, not blasting bunkers.
The word ‘gained’ in v. 15 is the idea of recovering something that you had lost...like a purse, wallet, or valuable. And every member of this church should be a valuable part of your life, not cast aside with respect of persons. We belong to one another, and it should hurt when we lose a brother or sister.
“They just try my patience”. Maybe God is using them in your life to develop patience!
Ill.—like the oyster, when some grainy character gets under your skin, make a pearl out of the situation.
There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
but it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they’re so plain.
Now, did he berate
the harsh workings of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?
’No,’ he said
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled ‘round,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral,
for isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?
What couldn’t we do
If we’d only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.
Every part of the body is important and needed, so never allow yourself to develop the attitude of ‘who needs them anyway’...you need them, that’s who!
Make a personal effort-go to them alone. But what if that doesn’t work?
• Make a plural effort
v. 16 Witnesses are important when the one on one fails. We need accountability that we are dealing rightly with them, and if they are not responding properly, the witnesses can attest to that. But make sure and take neutral, impartial parties...don’t gang up on them w/ someone who would naturally fall on your side, like a family member or close friend. A deacon or a pastor is a good idea. Whoever you take, they should be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker or hothead.
What if you’ve made the personal effort and the plural effort to no avail?
• Make a public effort
v. 17 If it’s clear to the church authorities you’ve taken with you that the other party is in the wrong, and it’s an offense worthy of it, then it can be brought before the church as a body. But even then, the goal is not winning the case, the goal is winning the brother.
No wonder the Bible compares sin to leaven or yeast...it spreads. At first there’s just 2 people involved, then several others, and finally the whole church is involved, and it must be dealt with. Even to the point of dismissing them from the assembly, that’s how important our unity is. Jesus is the One talking here, and He makes it clear that it’s not right to overlook public sin. Churches that make a habit of sweeping things under the rug wind up with a bigger mess than they thought possible.