"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Matthew 18:15. ESV.)
Last week a dear friend/sister in Christ and I were at the park and the topic of rebuking one in the body of Christ came up. I mentioned how difficult this task is for me whether I am approaching someone else or am the one being corrected by another. And I feel there are such icky feelings revolving around this (that as Christians we are called to do) because of the flesh and pride that can raise its ugly head on both sides of the situation at any given moment!
First, What God’s Word Says:
Luke 17:3: Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,
2 Thessalonians 3:15: Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Leviticus 19:17: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
1 Timothy 5:19: Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Romans 16:17: I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
2 Thessalonians 3:6: Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
Matthew 5:46-47: For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Just recently (this week or last) I have read blog posts by Trevin Wax and Tim Challis regarding accountability and conflict resolution between members of the body. Trevin Wax refers to Luke 12:14 and says,
“We take minor and petty disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ and begin to see them as major differences. We narrow the definitions of faithfulness until we can congratulate ourselves on being the only ones who are on the right track. Next comes the appeal to Scripture for going our own way. The double-edged sword intended to cut our own hearts gets turned into a sword we wield against others. Finally, when we can come to no agreement with our brother or sister, we think it best to end the tumultuous relationship by calling Jesus to issue the final decree of division. Please, Lord! Just show them they’re wrong! Tell him to do what I say! Prove my point so I can separate justifiably from them! But Christ refuses. In the passage above, instead of judging the man’s situation and family argument, Jesus boldly told him, “You get right! You watch yourself!” Jesus refused to codify the division and bless the break in this man’s relationship with his brother. I suspect that he would do the same with us in our petty feuds.”
Tim Challies blogged,
“I meet every week among a group of leaders from my church and just about every week somebody asks one of these questions: “Is there anything you really do not want to talk about?” or “Is there something you should tell us that you’re hoping nobody will ask?” These are good questions, leading questions, that cause us to probe our hearts a little bit to see if there is something we ought to confess. As leaders and potential leaders in the church, we desire transparency; we believe the Bible demands it….A little while ago I was reading a book review by Erik Raymond and thought he brought this out so succinctly. “Accountability is often quite helpful,” he said. “However, many times folks end up fearing their ‘accountability partner’ while remaining numbly void of a healthy fear of God. This does not kill the root of sin, but unwittingly increases a fear of man (idolatry).”… I think Erik nails it when he says accountability may give opportunity not to kill the root of sin, but to actually increase a fear of man. This is not the fault of accountability, I’m sure, but of the individual’s sinful heart. It’s my fault, not accountability’s.”
I agree with both of these and feel it in my heart! When I feel burdened to go to a member of the body am I addressing a sin issue or am I splitting hairs? Am I blind to my own sin while confronting another about theirs? Do I have any room to talk? Am I acting like a Pharisee? Am I using the “double edged sword intended to cut [my] own heart” as a “sword against others”? And when receiving correction from another do I address my sin issue out of a fear of God or a fear of my accountability partners---a.k.a man? In my opinion this is all good stuff on which to meditate!
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26. ESV.)