Summary: This was written as a Wednesday night Bible study where I was dealing with some hot topics that I felt our church needed to address. All of us need help forgiving others and dealing with difficult people. This message speaks to that topic.

“What to Do When Someone Sins Against You”

Matthew 18:15-17

David Henderson, Pastor/Teacher

One Sunday morning a wife tried to wake her husband up for church. He kept his eyes closed and said, “I don’t want to go to church; they don’t like me there.” She tried again, this time pleading with him to get out of bed, reminding him that some of the people did like him. Pulling his covers over his head, he replied, “No matter how hard I try, they keep making fun of me. On top of that, the sermons are focusing on conflict resolution. I don’t really want to think about that stuff.” Finally, she decided to practice some tough love. She whipped the covers off, raised her voice, and said, “You don’t have a choice. Get out of bed right now and get dressed…you’re the


This is one of those topics that is difficult to teach on for at least two reasons.

First, I am the pastor and I know all too well that I create enough conflict of my own...not on purpose mind you because I hate conflict...2nd I know that some of you are experiencing conflict right now. How do I know? Some have told me but the fact is we are all human.

My topic tonight is “What to Do When Someone Sins against You” from Matthew 18:15-17. It’s been my observation that this passage is often over-quoted and under-used. We talk about it but we don’t practice it. Some people consider it like a code when they say, “I’m going to ‘Matthew 18’ that person.” It’s my hope that when we’re finished tonight we’ll be motivated to not just quote it but to actually use these principles.

Matthew 18:15-17 PPT(3)

Before a plane takes off, a pilot does a “pre-flight” checklist. Here are some things a pilot does...(see pre-flight checklist) It is a list of things that they go through to make sure they will have a safe flight and they won’t crash or be in danger. (Earl, Dave)

Well fixing relationships are the same way. Too many times we say I’m going to go work this out...I don’t know what I’m going to do...I don’t know what I’m going to say...This can be very dangerous.

Don’t jump in without asking some important questions first. This is like a pre-flight checklist for relationships.

❏ Am I treating the other person as one of God’s treasures? It is always a good thing to put a Bible text in context. Let’s set this text in context.

❏ In verses 1-5, we’re told to welcome children,

and to even become like them.

❏ In verses 6-9, we’re challenged to not lead anyone into sin.

❏ In verses 10-14, Jesus reminds us that the Good Shepherd does not want any of His little lambs to be lost.

❏ Verse 15 uses the word “brother” twice which indicates that God does not want friction in his family and that He wants conflict dealt with among brothers and sisters in the Lord. A good example of this is found in Genesis 13:8 when Abraham is speaking with his nephew Lot: “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.”

❏ Check to make sure my goal is reconciliation, not retaliation. Right after this passage, we see in verses 21-35 that we must be willing to forgive “seventy times seven times” when someone sins against us. I must make sure my attitude is right so that I don’t fight or use my might. The goal is always reconciliation and restoration. James 5:19-20 reminds us that we are to bring back the one who is wandering and our aim is to turn the “sinner from the error of his way……”

❏ How’s my attitude? Our attitude can affect our altitude.

Before I go to a brother or sister I must make sure that I am not going with the right attitude. As a servant. With humility. Not superiority. Galatians 6:1-3: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

❏ Have I claimed the presence and power of Christ? Most of us are like the pastor who just wanted to stay in bed instead of making peacemaking a priority, Jesus makes two incredible promises in this passage. First, in Matthew 18:18 we read that if we handle conflict biblically here on earth it will be bound in heaven. Second, Matthew 18:19-20: “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

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