October 30, 2023

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Matthew 18:15-20 - Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.


In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples about confronting sin within the church community. He gives a step-by-step process for addressing sin: first privately, then with witnesses, then bringing it before the whole church. If the person refuses to listen even to the church, Jesus says to treat them like a pagan or tax collector. This does not mean to shun them completely, but to remove them from fellowship and membership in the church body. Jesus reminds us that church discipline is a serious matter that is bound in heaven as on earth. The goal is always restoration and reconciliation.


As Christians, we are called to both truth and love when dealing with sin in the church. Like Jesus, we must care enough about holiness and obedience to gently confront a brother or sister in sin, not to condemn but to restore them and gain them back. However, we must also be willing to follow through with accountability if they refuse to listen, understanding that open sin can spread quickly within the body. Church discipline is difficult but necessary to preserve the testimony of the church. And we must remember that God desires repentance and restoration above all - even for the most hardened sinner, God's grace is available. As Jesus said, where two or three gather in his name, he is present with us. Through the power of the Spirit, may we exercise discipline wisely and lovingly.


Lord Jesus, give us wisdom to know when it is right to confront sin, and when to bear with it patiently. Help us to speak truth with grace, to listen with empathy, and to always seek restoration. Forgive us when we have failed to hold one another accountable, or done so harshly, without love. May your Spirit guide every step of confrontation and discipline, that it may be done in a way that honors You. Amen.