Read Matthew 18:15-20.
Have you ever been wronged? That’s the opposite of righted, right? Being wronged hurts. It makes you want to yell out, “that’s not fair!” It’s certainly not right, because it’s wrong.
Do you know what’s worse than being wronged? Being wronged by a person who says they follow Jesus just like you do. We can handle wrong by those “in the world”, because their lives haven’t been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They just don’t know any better. We can expect wrong and even purposeful wrong (or persecution) from those kinds of people, but not a sister or brother in Christ. It just should not be.
But it happens, and more than we would like to admit. So what do we do about it?
Jesus says: “Nip it in the bud.” No, not really, but he does say that we don’t let it fester or spread. You know, that’s what happens with a wound, even a small one, if it’s not taken care of properly. We start by either ignoring it or picking at it, and then it just grows and gets infected. I had a small spot like that one time when I lived in West Africa. Picked at it, didn’t treat it properly with medicine, and I ended up having two shots a day for 12 days — right in my hip. A small thing became a big thing real fast, and it was not pleasant.
So, what happens when you feel wronged by a fellow believer? “Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” Do you know how many church fights would be avoided if this one simple rule were followed?
If that brother or sister listens, then you’ve won them over, according to Jesus. They recognize the hurt caused, apologize, and a relationship is restored and even strengthened. But Jesus is not naive. He knows that sometimes man’s sinful nature needs stronger measures.
“Take one or two others along” if he doesn’t listen. I would add here, be careful who you choose to go along. Pray before you go, pray while you’re in the home, and pray after you leave. This helps not only to prepare the heart of the one you’re addressing, but your heart, and those of your friends as well.
If this can’t be solved with one or two or three, then it must be brought before the church. Relationships broken by sin cannot continue in the church, if the Holy Spirit is to have free reign in the hearts of all who join together as a Body. A refusal to admit sin means that person is denying the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her own life. Such a one, if they continue to refuse to listen, must be put out of the church.
Guard your heart in all this. Even if every step was taken to bring restoration but to no avail, you are responsible to continue to pray for the Lord to deal with the one accused. Don’t let pride or bitterness or unforgiveness affect your own relationship with the Lord and others.
Many hesitate to follow these clear but hard instructions of Jesus because of the verse that says, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Different context, different group of people, different issue of wrongdoing. Don’t be deceived or afraid to do what is clearly the right course of action, for if you do, remember, you may win your brother and never have to go through the other steps.
Are you hurting because of a sister’s wrong toward you? Be strong and courageous and step out in faith with a motivation toward love and reconciliation for his glory.