Get Along Children
The beginning of this chapter tells us how to enter the family of God...by humbling ourselves as little children before the Lord. The rest of the chapter tells us how to get along with all the other children in our new family, and again there is a great need for humility.
It only takes two to have a family feud, but the more children there are, the more likely that you will be rubbed the wrong way. Well, the family of God is a big one, so no wonder there’s a big need for this passage.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
It’s shameful and disgraceful when children of God, washed in the blood, forgiven of a multitude of sins can’t find it in themselves to work out minor grievances with one another.
1. Confronting another
v. 15 There has to be a personal effort made. The key word is ‘alone.’ The Lord didn’t say to write them a letter or place a phone call, but go personally, let them hear the tone of your voice and see the look in your eye. And go to THEM only. Some people will go alone all right, but to just about anyone else OTHER than that person. This is sin!
Go with the attitude of winning a friend, not winning an argument. Did you know you can win an argument but still be the big loser?! How many guys here have ever won an argument w/ your wife and when you did, you wished you hadn’t?
If you are witnessing to someone and you allow it to degrade into an argument, it’s a lost cause. You always need to be building bridges, not blasting bunkers.
The word ‘gained’ in v. 15 is the idea of recovering something that you had lost...like a purse, wallet, or valuable. And every member of this church should be a valuable part of your life, not cast aside with respect of persons. We belong to one another, and it should hurt when we lose a brother or sister.
“They just try my patience”. Maybe God is using them in your life to develop patience!
Ill.—like the oyster, when some grainy character gets under your skin, make a pearl out of the situation.
There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
but it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they're so plain.
Now, did he berate
the harsh workings of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?
'No,' he said
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled ‘round,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral,
for isn't it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?
What couldn't we do
If we'd only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.
Every part of the body is important and needed, so never allow yourself to develop the attitude of ‘who needs them anyway’...you need them, that’s who!
Make a personal effort-go to them alone. But what if that doesn’t work?
v. 16 Witnesses are important when the one on one fails. We need accountability that we are dealing rightly with them, and if they are not responding properly, the witnesses can attest to that. But make sure and take neutral, impartial parties...don’t gang up on them w/ someone who would naturally fall on your side, like a family member or close friend. A deacon or a pastor is a good idea. Whoever you take, they should be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker or hothead.
What if you’ve made the personal effort and the plural effort to no avail?
v. 17 If it’s clear to the church authorities you’ve taken with you that the other party is in the wrong, and it’s an offense worthy of it, then it can be brought before the church as a body. But even then, the goal is not winning the case, the goal is winning the brother.
No wonder the Bible compares sin to leaven or yeast...it spreads. At first there’s just 2 people involved, then several others, and finally the whole church is involved, and it must be dealt with. Even to the point of dismissing them from the assembly, that’s how important our unity is. Jesus is the One talking here, and He makes it clear that it’s not right to overlook public sin. Churches that make a habit of sweeping things under the rug wind up with a bigger mess than they thought possible.
An example can be found in I Cor. 5...
v. 1-2 Mourn over the sin, take it seriously
v. 3-5 Judge the sin. Church discipline is seldom practiced these days, but it’s just as important today as it ever was. We’re not to be the ‘piety police’, but rather a grieving family seeking a wayward brother or sister.
The goal of church discipline is always restoration of the offender, not just to get rid of them, but to get right with them!
v. 6-13 Purge the sin. If they refuse to do right, then they are going to be a bad influence. Keep in mind this is talking about a Christian who is involved in grievous sin, not a lost person. We’d never want to run off a lost person, and they aren’t being a bad example of what it means to be a Christian either!
Ill.—no hospital gathers healthy people together to visit the hepatitis ward in hopes that the sick will ‘catch’ their health. So why do many churches not take sin in the camp seriously? We think maybe they’ll catch something good at church, but much more likely they will spread what they have to others.
Don’t get me wrong, we should love them, offer to help them, try to restore them...but if not, should we remain in intimate contact and fellowship with them? The Bible says, absolutely not! This isn’t popular. I didn’t write it, I just preach it.
Overlooking sin isn’t spiritual. It’s actually a sign that you probably don’t deal w/ your own sins either!
Church membership is a blessed thing...a protective covering, like an umbrella, and we can enjoy some great benefits of protection and fellowship. It is a privilege which should never be taken lightly. This also tells us that church membership is a necessary thing...not to salvation, but to spiritual growth. I meet people all the time who tell me they don’t need to join the church because they are members of the universal church. I say, try that in the Army. Tell them you don’t want to be a part of a squad or a battalion, just the greater group called the Army. How many wars would we win with that mentality? Would our nation even exist today if we were organized at the local level?
We have many praying about membership. Take all the time you need to seek and find God’s will...but once you know you’ve found it, make your move and show your commitment, or if you’re not committed, then don’t join...we’ll just ‘live together’ and try our best to make things all work out!
The Lord never intended for any Christian to take the ‘Lone Ranger’ approach, for accountability is an extremely important aspect of your walk w/ Christ.
That’s all under ‘confronting another’...
2. Forgiving another
v. 21-22 The rabbis in those days said forgive 3 times, then let ‘em have it. Peter thought he was being really magnanimous in saying ‘7 times’. He thought Jesus would say, “Peter, you are some guy! I’m nominating you for ‘Mr. Spirituality, A.D. 32!’
Peter had a humility shortage. He assumed it would be someone offending him and not the other way around. Some people are like that, always looking for how someone may be stepping on their property and never considering that they may be the worst at such a thing!
Well, love and forgiveness can have no limits. Some people keep records of how they’ve been wronged, and when they ever get to ‘490’ they plan to call it quits. But once you’ve forgiven that much, you’re pretty well in the habit!
3. Mistreating another
The chapter ends with a parable that makes it clear that we have no right to hold something against another in bitter unforgiveness...why? Because we’ve been forgiven for a debt we could not begin to pay...we didn’t deserve to be forgiven, but we were granted forgiveness anyway. To not forgive and work it out is the height of hypocrisy!
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