I can give you story after story of where I have wronged someone and it ended in a bitter way, or we are no longer friends. I could give you just as many stories of times I have been wronged by a friend and, even after attempts to reconcile, we remain distant.
But I don’t want to tell those stories.
You have plenty of your own. In fact, I bet just by me mentioning it, you’re thinking of someone you need to apologize to or vice versa.
This morning, I’m taking us straight to the scriptures for guidance on what we should do. No “I think…” or “in my opinion…”. Instead, let’s see what the Lord says we should do.
“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. 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. 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.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
Let’s start with who Jesus is talking to. He says “if thy brother”. This isn’t speaking of a family matter. Here, He is referring to your brother in the faith, so a fellow Christian. So right off, we know that this passage is speaking about restitution between Christians and within the church.
Then we see that the passage says “against thee”. This means you are to follow this guideline if you have been wronged, not if your friend has been wronged. While we want to help, it’s not our place to get involved in the beginning.
The Lord says the church should work together in unity and be of one accord to accomplish His will here on earth.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21)
We see what the Lord wants us to do, but what really happens? The flesh wants to start telling everyone how we’ve been wronged. As if we are trying to gain support, reassurance that we are in the right, but really all we are doing is gathering an army. And many times, unfortunately, our initial reaction is to seek revenge.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must lay aside our flesh and follow the Lord’s lead.
We go to them alone and discuss the issue. Not in a heated debate, throwing accusations and pointing our fingers in their face, but in a manner that is loving and caring.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (James 1:19)
“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
And why is it so important to restore these relationships?
Number 1: because you are an example to the world of Christ. No explanation needed there. Number 2: as the body of Christ we are to work together for His kingdom. Nothing else really matters when you look at it that way.
Let’s take care of this today. Not in the way our flesh would desire, but in the way the Lord described to us and instructed us.