Summary: What does Jesus say to do when offenses occur within the family of God?
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
1. “If thy brother.” Both God and the world expect Christians to demonstrate a special loyalty toward one another.
1 John 3:16 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
2. “Shall trespass against you.” Trespass [Gr. hamartano] = to miss the mark, come up short. When a Christian misses the mark, they not only damage the reputation of Christ but they also hurt the reputation of other Christians and their church.
EXAMPLE: Because of David’s sin with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet told the King – “By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” 2 Samuel 12:14.
The wrong response when we see a fellow Christian missing the mark is when we think, “They haven’t actually offended me, therefore, I’m not responsible.”
If we witness an offense or are the subject of an offense it is our responsibility to take the next step!
3. “Go and tell him.” Going to an offending fellow Christian to restore them has been and always will be God’s greatest test of genuine love.
It is easy to pass judgment in our mind about someone. It is also easy to tell someone else in hope that they will do something about the matter. It is even easy for “some people” to be bold and go to the person and point out their sin.
When you go – go in the right spirit!
Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
When you go – examine yourself first to see if you have failed in a similar area.
Matthew 7:3-5 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
When you go – pray for the offender’s restoration.
James 5:15-17, 19-20 “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,.. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
When you go – realize that the offending brother has been overtaken and deceived. This can happen to any of us when we become spiritually weak or deceived.
Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
When you go – approach them as Christ would. Some will say, “I’m not spiritual enough to help a fallen brother!” Whose fault is that? If this is true – you are overtaken in a fault! Confess this to God and ask Him for wisdom.
James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
When you go – confess your faults to the offending brother. This is being spiritual. We must go in the spirit of meekness, gentleness, humbleness and love.