Thursday: From Rancor to Restoration
avatar

Read Matthew 18:15-17.

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

What three steps does Jesus give us to help us to resolve conflicts when we are wronged by another church member? How are we to apply these words in our contemporary situations?

Jesus’ desire in giving the counsel of Matthew 18 is to keep conflict in as small a group as possible. His intent is that the two people involved solve the problem themselves. This is why Jesus declares, “‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone’” (Matt. 18:15, NKJV). As the number of people involved in a conflict between two individuals increases, the more contention is created. People take sides, and the battle lines are drawn. But when Christians attempt to settle their differences privately, and in the spirit of Christian love and mutual understanding, a climate of reconciliation is created. The atmosphere is right for the Holy Spirit to work with them as they strive to resolve their differences.

There are times when personal appeals for conflict resolution are ineffective. In these instances Jesus invites us to take one or two others with us. This second step in the reconciliation process must always follow the first step. The purpose is to bring people together, not drive them further apart. The one or two who join the offended party are not coming to prove his/her point or to join in blaming the other individual. They come in Christian love and compassion as counselors and prayer partners in order to participate in the process of bringing two estranged people together.

There are occasions when all attempts to solve the problem do not work. In this case, Jesus instructs us to bring the issue before the church. He is certainly not talking about interrupting the Sabbath morning worship service with an issue of personal conflict. The appropriate place to bring the issue, if the first two steps have not helped to reconcile the two parties, is the church board. Again, Christ’s purpose is reconciliation. It is not to blame one party and exonerate the other.

“Do not suffer resentment to ripen into malice. Do not allow the wound to fester and break out in poisoned words, which taint the minds of those who hear. Do not allow bitter thoughts to continue to fill your mind and his. Go to your brother, and in humility and sincerity talk with him about the matter.”-Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers p. 499.

Share Button

Comments

Thursday: From Rancor to Restoration — 27 Comments

  1. this lesson is offering us opportunity to reconcile with our perceived enemies ,using humility and understanding in heaven bound focus ,by so doing true reformation is attained .

    Like(22)
  2. Mhhh Yes I think God wants unity in His church. Then what do u do if that person who wrong u doesn't see his or her mistake? I`m praying that God give me wisdom and His heart and learn to forgive because He also forgave my sin.

    Like(8)
    • NOSIPHO the matter is not on your offender, but it is on you! The writter says "forgiveness is a CHOICE" therefore we have to forgive as we are forgiven,, & we have to love as we are being loved by Christ!! If your offender doesn't realize His/her mistake, just do your duty "Forgive him/her! {For sure we need that mind Wich was in Christ Phil 2:5}

      Like(5)
  3. If everyone’s goal is to make it to the kingdom of God, and being like Christ is the foremost thing in and on our minds, rancor and its likes will fail to take root in our lives.
    Reconciliation and being reconcile unto, is such an amazing feeling.

    Like(7)
  4. Very sage words of advice,....and something I personally don't follow near enough. I believe, people, especially women (excuse the stereotype), tend to gossip and complain to others, rather than face the person they have a grievance with. Matt 15:18. Good words to take to heart, even if it is more difficult to follow.

    Like(15)
  5. It is really a big challenge to us all as christians regarding our actions.The lesson of this quarter has really shed light to us if we want to gain internal life.

    God created man in his own image and likeness.When man sinned, the image went, and what remained was the likeness.Therefore, God sent jesus to come and restore the image that was tainted and thats you and me.We should therefor, first pray for the holy spirit to revive us internally inorder to restore our relationship with the Lord and there after to our fellow brothers.It is worth to note, if Jesus gave His life for us to restore us back to originallity, then who are not to mend our ways with others.Gods desire is to see us as original as He created us.Before we wrong others, lets ask ourselves these questions, WHAT DO WE GAIN WHEN WE MESS TO OTHERS?DOES OUR ACTION TO OTHERS REFFLECT THE WILL GOD?IF THEY DID THE SAME TO US, HOW WILL WE FEEL?May God bless us as we pray for the Holy Spirit to revive us to do the will of God.AMEN

    Like(11)
  6. The revival and reformation werae learning now has to start with individual members in the church.
    We srive to get above the petty issues of wanting to be superior to others, bickering,selfisheness. our relationships must not be classfied.
    We can only achieve reconciliation when we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in our live and beholding the life of Jesus.
    DA p. 661 say, "He who beholds the Saviour's matchless love will be elevated in thoughts,purified in heart,transformed in character. He will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree this mysterious love."
    Our role model in this christain journry should be our Saviour

    Like(4)
  7. I had someone that I needed to forgive who isn't in the church. When I say needed to forgive it was because like it was said earlier in the study it was enabling that person to continue to harm me without even knowing.

    I was told to pray for the person. At first my prayer was very crude but as the Holy Spirit was healing me my prayer became more earnest and I could feel the weight of the deep resentment lifting.

    I wasn't totally aware of being set free until one day I found my self talking about the person with compassion. What a glorious day that was.

    My forgiveness was never accepted but I was set free.

    Like(9)
  8. I'm curious to know what is meant by the last step we are to take if or brother still does not listen to us. Treat him like a pagan........any thoughts or even better follow up scriptures/EGW. THANKS

    Like(5)
    • I see that nobody has attempted to answer your question Jaye. Here is my answer for what it is worth. I think the expression is a figure of speech. The passage in Matthew 18 is essentially about resolution of issues. It recognises that sometimes a person will simply not listen to reason, from either you or other members of your Christian community. Having exhausted all the avenues of communication, this means that person has in fact rejected the invitation to reconciliation and must therefore be treated differently. That is not a command to shun or ingore them but any further interaction with them must be done on a different basis.

      Like(3)
      • Having a ministry of reconciliation from Christ (2 Cor 5:18-19) to me means that we indeed exhaust all possible means to reconcile a situation, that is what Jesus did with Israel (Isa 5:4). However, in some cases there comes a time when nothing more can be done and if the offense is so great that it is a matter of public knowledge and nothing is done then the lack of action on the part of the church will be viewed as condoning such behavior. To both the world outside the church and inside the inaction becomes a stamp of approval and will usually entice others to do the same to say nothing of cutting short any evangelistic efforts. That is why some situations have to be dealt with whether we like to or not and sometimes the decisions that must be made are heart wrenching.

        On several occasions the early church had to deal with cases such as that. The first one that comes to mind is the business concerning pledging with Ananias and Sapphira. In that case it wasn't a matter of shunning but outright termination. The reaction of the church was, "So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things" (Acts 5:11 NKJV). That action cut off all subsequent misdealing with God by church members.

        The second case is the one Paul dealt with in Corinth, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles-- that a man has his father's wife!" (1 Cor. 5:1 NKJV). In that case the man was put out of the church or as Paul put it, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:4-5 NKJV). That wasn't a simple matter of ignoring the man but much more sever. Happily, as it turned out the man apparently repented and was accepted back in the church (2 Cor 1:6-8).

        We have to realize that if we don't take care of disciplinary matters when we can then things go downhill very quickly and consequences become much more severe, even to the point of eternal death. In all of this wisdom is required and above all a sense of redemption of that which seems lost.

        Like(2)
    • Blanco's Clearword Bible paraphrase puts it this way: "If he doesn't listen to the church, then treat him as one who needs to be brought back to the Lord", ( or treat him as one who needs to be converted). Read from Desire of Ages, pages 440-441. God bless.

      Like(2)
      • Virginia we also need to read Acts of the Apostles, p 303.2, 73.4 and the Desire of Ages 656.1 along with other quotes such as, "Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive" (Christ's Object Lessons, p 71.3) in order to get a balanced understanding of these things.

        Also we need to understand that Blanco's Clearword Bible Paraphrase is an interpretation. Even the New Living Translation which is another paraphrase doesn't go to the extent that Blanco's paraphrase does "Then if he or she won't accept the church's decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector" (Matt. 18:17 NLT).

        Like(1)
        • The question is: How are we supposed to treat pagans and "corrupt tax collectors"?

          How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?

          Did Jesus not give us the commission to share the Good News with "pagans"? In other words, are we not to win them to Christ?

          Like(2)
        • Inge, I understand what you are saying and I certainly don't disagree with doing things with the intent of restoration. We are to redeem those that are sliding, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1 NKJV). No question about that - which was the point I made in the first part of my comment.

          "The question is: How are we supposed to treat pagans and "corrupt tax collectors"?" Indeed, that is the question and that depends where we find them and under what circumstances. Jesus is not referring to those people that are outside the church that don't know the truth but those that are inside the church that choose to be like pagans and tax collectors while knowing what is right. The problem is not how to win someone who has trouble seeing the truth but what to do with a person who has known the truth and yet has decided to reject it even when surrounded by the entire church testifying against what he is doing. The situation Jesus is speaking of is described very well in this way, "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10:26 NKJV). In other words, the person is rapidly moving toward the condition of the unpardonable sin because he is doing it willful or continually as the Greek of the text shows.

          We are not talking about an occasional fall, a stumbling that a person really didn't intend which we are all involved with or even being deceived on some point but rather a hardened decision to continue doing what they know is wrong in spite of numerous testimonies to the fact. In my opinion that is what Jesus means by, "let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" (Matt. 18:17 NKJV) in the Jewish way of thinking that firmly rejected those groups of people. The whole matter has to do with rejection of a person who will not listen no matter what. We do not welcome Satan to church - we keep him out unless there are signs of repentance - and we all know according to Scripture that Satan will never repent!

          Like(1)
        • Dealing with the question of Mat 18:17 I think it is probably instructive to study how Jesus related to the Pharisees because those people were probably the most difficult for Him to win, even more so than pagans or tax collectors that knew they were on the outside. First of all nowhere in the Gospels that I know of does Jesus ever instruct His disciples to actively evangelize the Pharisees but rather the opposite (Mat 15:14). His main thrust seems to be to the marginalized and those who were open to what He had to say - not to those who would not listen because of a closed mind.

          He is never portrayed as approaching the Pharisees except perhaps while in the temple at the age of twelve (Lk 2). The Pharisees always came to him, not the other way around and then usually only for the purpose of entrapment. He never pushed them away but when conflict arose He usually removed Himself from the area and moved on to more fertile territory.

          There were also times when He spent significant time with the Pharisees that were at least partially open to what He had to say. He had quite a discussion with Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-21) and went to Simons the leper's house for a meal (Mat 26; Mk 14) where he ended up instructing Simon on judging others. Other than these few positive encounters Jesus generally didn't mess with closed minds which is what Mat 18:17 is really about, but rather spent time with those that had a chance of being fruitful. You save what can be saved but when stubborn refusal and rejection surfaces it is time to move on.

          Eventually things got to the point where the Holy Spirit simply departed because of rejection and those closed minds were left to themselves and to their master the devil. That is equivalent to letting, "him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" or putting him out of the church. It is a form of acknowledging a definite separation with no intent on the part of the person to accept reconciliation under any circumstance. The burden to rejoin seems to have been placed on the decision of the Pharisees rather than God. In other words the Holy Spirit will work where it can and when it can't it just leaves because there is nothing more that can be done. That is what is called wrath (Rom 1:18-32) and to me that is essentially what Jesus told us to do in the face of the firm rejection that is portrayed in Mat 18:17.

          Like(1)
  9. The overall purpose of human communication
    is - or should be - reconciliation. It should
    ultimately serve to lower or remove the walls of
    misunderstanding which unduly separate us human beings, one
    from another.”

    Like(2)
  10. The prayer of a loving saviour who is about to leave His loved disciples is that may God make them one just as the Father and Son are one.Christ is waiting for the oneness to be reflected in HIs people so that He can come forth to take the church Home.

    Like(3)
  11. The main problem with us as christians,we are always looking for highly recognized positions in church,forgeting the main reason why we are at church. We need to reflect God's work and live by His rules.I wish christians can be united so that we can recruit more souls to God.

    Like(6)
  12. 4give them 4 they know not what they're doing said Jesus on the cross & they were repeated by Stephen @ death point. He didn't wait 4 Saul 2 ask 4 4giveness, he found it good 2 4give them. They will sit & share 2gether in the heavenly courts when they'll meet (Stephen & Paul). Now what I'll urge us, lets just 4give despite it'll b accepted or not, may be even if we are gone our afflictrs & accusers might change some day. As did Stephen & Jesus.

    Like(2)
  13. This is a wonderful lesson for us christian,we should not shout love love in our church and yet our families are rotten,let us start forgiving from our homes for others to take us serious.Sister-in law should forgive sisters and brother to brother then we preach love and reconciliation.God bless you all.

    Like(2)
  14. Mathew 18 are Divinely given instructions on how we resolve our differences in the Body of Christ or the church. We must exhausted every steps given and if that individual will not yield, then leave him/her alone for only the power of God by the Holy Spirit can unshackled the deceived Soul, but we must exhausted every steps given. And again this will only be possible when the Holy Spirit is constantly abiding in our Souls. When Christ is constantly abiding in us, we will not be stumbling blocks to our brothers and sisters in the church by furthering the damage inflicted and create a spirit of rebellious. Lets study His Word and understand His ways for us to follow, for this is God's Will that lead us to eternal life. Cheers!!!

    Like(1)
  15. I am so grateful for this week's lesson. It has answered many questions regarding how I should handle conflict with a church member I have done all of the steps except get the pastor involved. However the animosity it has fostered already leads me to one conclusion that I must accept, pray for her and leave it alone. I think I was trying to be God and thought that if I approached right she would hear and that I had to keep trying. This lesson shows me that there is a point when you just let it go.

    Like(2)
  16. reconciliation is not all about reconciling with that fellow who wronged you and pleaded for your forgivness but is all about going to that fellow who had some bitterness in mind against you for reconsiliation

    Like(1)
  17. God Teaches LOVE... If you have LOVE then you have all. Most of the Christians don't have this "LOVE" but im sure CHRIST had it! Now, If you condemn other's, blame others, then you must not be called CHRISTIAN. Apostle Paul realized that he was wrong when he told something to young Preacher but then He made the things right by doing something with LOVE.

    Like(1)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.