Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: Beyond Mistakes
By Edmond Ng
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"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (Matthew 18:15 NAS)"Hmph! I've told him before, but he refused to listen. Now, he's getting his just desserts!"
I've heard this being whispered behind my back before, and I didn't like it. Everybody makes mistakes, and I am no exception. Like everyone else, I make decisions all the time, and it is not unusual for me to make wrong decisions at times. Making mistakes, to me, is part and parcel of life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important is for me to get back on the right track once the mistake is realized and correct the wrong or abandon it completely to start anew.
All of us make mistakes. There is therefore no need for us to remind others of their mistakes, nor any reason to snort at them when they fail. Mistakes are lessons in life everyone has to go through to learn how not to make the same mistakes again.
Unlike mistakes, however, sin is the deliberate act of disobeying God. Jesus, in the Gospel, taught that if we see a brother sin, we should go and show him his fault in private, and if he listens to us, we have won the brother (Matthew 18:15). But if the brother does not listen, we are then to take one or two more with us, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every fact may be confirmed (Matthew 18:16).
Nowhere in the Bible was there any teaching that we should just warn the brother and leave him alone to bear the consequences, so that he may learn from his mistake. Neither was there any suggestion in the Bible that we should show contempt towards that brother who has failed to do what was right, but has since repented and is now on the right track with God.
It is noble and good for us to love someone enough to want to warn him or her of mistakes or sins. It is, however, neither noble nor good to jeer at that someone for failing to heed advice. Jeering, ridiculing, despising and sneering at someone for his or her mistake is undermining, demeaning and showing contempt. Such behavior is not exemplary of the Christ who lives in us. We should therefore always test and examine ourselves to see if our motive for wanting to warn our brothers or sisters is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Dear Lord, forgive us for giving up easily when it comes to warning our brothers and sisters about their sins, and for showing contempt towards them when they fail. Help us Lord to examine our motives when seeking to warn them, to do it out of love and not spite. Stir our hearts Lord that we may not take sin lightly to assume it is just another mistake, but instill in us to recognize sin for what it is and repent.
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