“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV).
Jesus Christ gave a formula of reconciliation with an erring brother and, by inference, any other person who sins against us. The first step in the formula is that the one who is erred against should go to the erring person privately and show him his fault. If the erring person accepts his fault, good. If he does not, then, the second step will follow: involving a third party. The third will happen if the second step fails. In this step, the church should be involved. If the third step does not work out, then the last step: regarding the erring person as an unbeliever! In a normal situation, at most, the matter should not go beyond the second step before it is resolved.
Nevertheless, one important aspect of the whole process is that the person that is erred against should be the one that will initiate the whole process. There are many reasons for this. One, the erring person may not know that he has done something wrong. Even if he knows, he may find it difficult to initiate the reconciling process. Two, the person that is erred against will have a grudge against the erring person. This is a sin against God (see Leviticus 19:18). Three, the resentment will be a hindrance to the prayers of the person that is erred against (see Matthew 5:23, 24; 6:14, 15; Mark 11:25). Four, the person that is erred against will not have rest of mind because of the grudge he is having against the erring person, and this may lead to health problems.
An experience I had recently confirmed the fourth reason. An elderly man misunderstood me and accused me of disrespecting him. I was offended with the misunderstanding. I initially decided not to reconcile with him because he was the one that misunderstood me. However, I developed that unrest within me. I summoned the courage and approached the man. After initial argument, he reasoned with me and the matter was resolved. Now, both of us do not have any grudge against each other.
Has anyone erred against you? Though you are right, be ready to take the first step to reconcile with the person. If he does not accept his fault, involve somebody that you know he can listen to. Even if you take all the steps in the formula of Jesus Christ described above, still forgive him in your heart. Apostle Paul told the Colossians, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (3:13 NIV).
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
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