walk in the word
15If 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. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. —Matthew 18:15-17
Here’s Jesus’ third step in conflict resolution: be specific. Now we’re getting into the details. Do you see it there in verse 15? “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault.” No beating around the bush, no starting with ten words of encouragement and all these worldly truisms we’ve been told. JUST GET TO THE POINT! It goes like this: You did this, and it hurt me. This is how it affected me, how I’ve tried to deal with it. Could you help me with this? Tell him his fault.
Actually, the Greek there is just one word that means lay the evidence out. This has nothing to do with explaining or excusing. Just state the facts: This is what happened. If you don’t know what happened, you better stay home.
And by the way, go and tell. Don’t show. Don’t be showing your marriage partner that you’re upset about stuff. No moping or passive aggressive mixed signals—out with it. You hurt me when you do this. Loving, verbal statements, are a communication centerpiece for a happy marriage. Say it using Jesus’ pattern: full of grace and truth. Don’t scrimp on either.
Jesus’ fourth step in conflict resolution: Private at first. It’s got to begin privately.
You ask, Why? There are several good reasons to start privately. First Peter 4:8 says love covers a multitude of sins. If my brother has sinned, I love him and want him to grow and be everything God wants him to be. So I go to him privately, lest he be publically shamed and embarrassed.
I also go in private because I might be mistaken. Now, if you’re not open to the possibility you could have seen the situation wrongly, don’t go to the person because you’re not humble enough yet. Keep praying about it.
Finally, I go in private because he may not know. He does not realize what he did.
How could he possibly not know?
Since he is just like you and me, he may have a blind spot. He may be committing a sin he cannot see because of lack of knowledge or maturity.
You may think, I don’t see any blind spots in me. We all have them but can’t see them without help. That’s why they’re called blind spots. Conflict resolution starts in private.
Almighty Father, it’s easy for me to be offended in general rather than specifics. Train me, Lord, to be humble enough to acknowledge I should approach others privately lest they or I be shamed by my error in perception. Teach me to give others the benefit of the doubt. And if I must correct, may I do so in such a way that a friendship is preserved. Thank You for all the ways You work on me each day!
In Jesus’ name,
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