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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Daily Devotions

God’s Garden-Lettuce Be Kind Part 6-Love Your Enemies

This post was originally posted by me on The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen on a Church Sign

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Lettuce Be Kind- Let us be kind

Love Your Enemies

Luke 6: 27-38

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

As we have worked our way through this topic, we have established some things I hope we are all in agreement on

Kindness matters to God; He talks about it in His Word a lot

His Word tells us how to do it, and if we listen it will transform us

The norm today, in our society and culture, is NOT to behave nicely

The command is clear, the guidance is plain, yet we consistently reject these teachings and go our own way, which is to follow the culture into me ism. One of my favorite writers, J. Vernon McGee had the following to say about this teaching of Jesus

 What I am saying may sound revolutionary, and it is, but it is what Jesus Christ said, friend. There are those who tell me that they are following Jesus. They do no dare to follow Him. Read what He says in this chapter, and believe me, it will remove the cloak of hypocrisy and peel off the skin of any man

Ouch eh? On that note, let’s begin to break down what Jesus was teaching here, shall we?

One thing I got clearly from reading and study on this passage, is that we don’t have a list of rules here that we are simply to follow by rote. This is not a punch list where if we get all the rules punched we win a prize. This guidance is to reflect the overall condition of our hearts. Our changed hearts produce changed actions. A next thing to keep in mind, is that we can expect people to become angry with us; we can expect harsh words and even harsh action. If we use Jesus as our example, why on earth would we expect anything different?

So, we can expect to be sometimes not treated as nicely as perhaps we would like. Who are our enemies, anyway? Well, let’s look at who it’s not; our enemies are not: sinners, politicians, atheists, or other religions or faiths. Enemies are those who are directly trying to harm us, or those in our circle of concern. That makes this teaching even tougher, doesn’t it? Well, we can take this further easily. We aren’t just to tolerate our enemies, or not retaliate against our enemies. We are to actually take steps to be NICE to them. Well, that’s pretty lousy, isn’t it?

 Visit the Isaiah 53:5 Project for more posts!

Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant Part 2

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Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Last time, we began to take a look at this parable of the unforgiving servant. We established two things on which I hope we are in agreement:

The parable is addressed to the brethren, to believers.

God is extremely serious about forgiveness, and very angry about unforgiveness.

Matthew 18:23-35.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

This is a parable full of some rather extreme comparisons , but the extremeness of the examples really helps make the point of this parable.. So, let’s take a look at the two servants quickly and compare their relative situations.

The first servant of the king being referred to was likely not just a simply household servant.  When we get to the sheer amount of the money owed by this servant to the king, we can see that very easily. Any king of the time would have had governors, or representatives in all outlying provinces to take care of the king’s business. Primarily, this king’s business would have been the collecting of taxes and revenue on behalf of the king.

Periodically, the king would have to settle accounts with his representatives and collect the money they had collected on his behalf. That apparently is what happened here. Well, it seems there was just a little short fall in accounts at this time. In fact, it fell 10,000 talents short. How much is that? Well, it’s a lot! Let’s look quickly at some thoughts about this.

The total tax revenue collected by the Roman Government in the provinces of Israel at the time averaged about 900 talents. In this scenario, the debt owed was about 11 years in revenue from the entire nation!

The entire Temple was built in Jerusalem was built for around 8000 talents of gold.

S0lomon at the height of his glory, had brought to him 666 talents of gold in a year.

Some estimate this debt at 10-12 million dollars in today’s money

Some say that, due to word usage, that what this debt amounted to was and infinite debt, which was simply not payable.

At any rate, the debt was huge, and in a very realistic sense, simply not repayable.

Now, let’s move on to the second servant. This second fellow was apparently an associate of the first, and he likewise owed something financially. What did this one owe? Well, he owed a hundred pence, in some translations we see this written as denari. At any rate, a pence or denari was about a day’s labor for the average worker in Palestine at the time. That means this represented about 3 months or so for the average day laborer. It was a real debt, but it was also a manageable one. Assuming the second debtor was actually not just a day laborer himself, it is very possible that his debt could have been repayed at some time future.

Next, we will start taking a look at the reactions of each debtor, and the reaction of the one who was owed the debt! Stay tuned.

Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant Part 1

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Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

For those who may  just be joining, we have been doing a series of devotionals around Matthew Chapter 18 and some of its teachings about forgiveness. Although we have covered quite a bit in the chapter, the above verse has been our center piece or the series more or less. This was the question Peter asked of Jesus during their conversation on forgiveness, and the answers to Peter’s question have been our topic of discussion. Now will move on the Jesus telling a parable about and unforgiving servant.

Matthew 18:23-35.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.nd his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Wow, that’s some harsh stuff right there. People put in prison, and delivered to tormentors. To  make it worse, this passage is saying God will do likewise to us? Ouch and ouch.

First things first. This passage is NOT about salvation. Got that? Great! Allow me to explain. First and foremost, our salvation is by grace through faith and only by grace. Nothing we do earns it; nothing we do keeps it. So, any who interpret this passage as relating to our salvation and the earning or losing of it, well you are simply wrong.

Next, this passage is addressed to believers. Which really makes it seem harsh, doesn’t it? How can we conclude that this parable is addressed to believers?

First, it was likened to the Kingdom of Heaven. Who is in the Kingdom of Heaven but those who believe? Second, this parable was given to Peter in direct response to the question Peter asked Jesus. Peter asked about “my brother.” Who are our brother’s and sisters? Those who have been saved by God’s grace of course. In conclusion, there is every indication that this passage is aimed at saved believers.

Given the seeming harshness of this passage, what is the ramification of this being written for believers? That is easy. God is very, very serious about us extending forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We could start a list of Bible verses on forgiveness, love, kindness, and other similar words and those passages would fill a book in and of themselves. But here, we see a link between what God requires us to do, and what He says we may suffer if we do not. God is serious, and in this passage He tell us just how serious He really is.

When God tells us to forgive, He means it.

Next: we break down this passage a bit.

Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Taking It To the Church

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Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Before we begin we ought to recap quickly where we have been. We have been using the passage above as the center-point, or pivot around which we have built a series of devotions. Specifically, we have been dealing with an issue often referred to as “church discipline.” We have been taking a look at how to deal with a brother or sister who has sinned or fallen short in such a way there is no choice but to intervene in the situation. Here is a quick recap:

It’s not a “gray area.” What is occurring is clearly causing harm to the brother/sister, another person, the church, or the Kingdom in general and its testimony

A private conversation has not helped, as the offender has either denied or rebuffed our efforts to help them get back on path.

Visits by the brother/sister’s friends or perhaps church officers has not helped.

Clearly we have a situation that cannot continue without harm occurring.

What now?

Matthew 18:15-18

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: Take it to the church. Yes, that is correct, throw the business in question right out there for everybody to know. That seems harsh doesn’t it? Why on earth would we do such a thing?

Well, we are not:

Laying the ground work to kick the no good out.

Hoping the public humiliation will just make them, and the problem, go away.

Make ourselves, and our church look good in the community. “Hey, look what WE do to no good sinners!”

Additionally, we are not throwing our authority as moral policemen around here; in fact, church discipline conducted according to God’s Word  would better be called God’s discipline. Additionally, we are not out to condemn the offender in our midst. Public condemnation is likely to only bring out the worst in a person and humiliate and drive them away.

What is the goal? We have said it before, and we will say it again; the goal is repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. OUR goals with our offending brother or sister are exactly the SAME objectives our Lord has for us as sinners. That’s it, and it’s very, very simple.

At this point, the church, the local assembly of believers should be aggressively and compassionately pursuing the offending brother or sister. We should love, beg, and plead for our loved one to repent and return to us. All of us, the entire church. I make specific mention of the church as a body, because that is who it is. Whether it be a local church of 75 believers or 1000 believers, it is the local body of believers who need to be chasing this brother or sister. It’s not a church committee or disciplinary committee within a church, and it is certainly not some ecclesiastical board or authority outside of the local assembly of believers. It is literally, the church family and body that our wayward brother or sister is part of.

We have loved, we have chased, and we have pursued. Our beloved one has continued still to live in their sin and rebellion. What’s next?

Daily Devotion-February 5, 2016-Acts 11:26 Would We Be Called Christians?

Originally published October 12, 2014

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In the latter part of part of Acts Chapter 11, we see that Paul and Barnabas had spent a year in Antioch preaching and teaching the Gospel with great effect. In fact they were so notable in their presence that, as the text says, believers were first referred to as Christians: literally, “followers of Christ.” In the beginning, being called Christian was not necessarily a word of praise, but that’s not really the point. The point is, really, that the believers in Antioch were so closely identified with the Lord they served that they were given His name as their own. Are we called Christians? Let me clarify: Do others see us as Christians? We may call ourselves whatever we want without making it true. If we each asked ten people we knew to write down the five most notable things about us, would each list include a word about our faith? Is our life different enough that it becomes how people see us? That is what happened in Antioch, and it was important enough for God to mention in His Word. How do we achieve an identity as a Christian? We don’t. Not of ourselves, but through the power and filling of the Holy Spirit. But there is one thing we must make a conscious decision to do in our Christian lives. We do have to surrender to Jesus as Lord and to the power of the Holy Spirit. Once we surrender, the Spirit will begin to mold us into a new, different person. Because different is the key to being identified as “A follower of Christ.” Are we the person who “Goes to church,” or are we the person who’s entire life is so different that people see it and link that difference to who we are so tightly that we should be called “Christian?”


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Daily Devotion-February 4, 2016-2 Kings 5:9-11 Taking Off Your Uniform

Originally published October 11, 2014

Daily

2 Kings 5:9-11

“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.”


 The full story for the background for this article can be found in 2 Kings 5, but we will briefly recap it here. Naaman, the Syrian General, had been afflicted with leprosy and was, of course, desperate for a cure. Word came to Naaman that the great Prophet of the Jews, Elisha, could cure him of his disease. As befitting a great general, Naaman showed up at Elisha’s home complete with Chariot and entourage, like the great man he was back in Syria.

We all know the story. Elisha didn’t even go outside to greet the great general; he simply sent a messenger out and told Naaman basically, “Go wash in the Jordan river, and you will be clean.” That was simple and with no fanfare at all. Needless to say Naaman was greatly insulted, as he expected some great miracle from the Prophet. Naaman surely thought Elisha would come to the door, make a big greeting and perform some showy ritual for the big General. Elisha did not, so Naaman stormed home in a huff basically. Of course, he was still leprous!

It was not until later in the passage, when Naaman’s servants spoke with him, that he changed his thoughts about what had happened. They pointed out to him, basically, that if Elisha had asked him to do some great thing that made him look good he would have done it; yet he had refused to do this simply thing that only glorified God.

Are we like that? Do we make a pretense of seeking what God wants, but what we really seek is the thing that preserves our status in our own eyes? Are we willing to “Take off our uniform?” Are we truly willing to humble ourselves and submit to the will of God, even when it doesn’t make us look good?

Naaman finally did humble himself and submit and was healed of his leprosy. We too, might find that if we humble ourselves and submit we would also be healed of the diseases that afflict us: sin, death and lack of joy among them.

 

 

Daily Devotion-February 3, 2016-Matthew 9:9 Give Up Your Life and Follow Me

As seems to happen every couple of months, I have gotten way behind at both work and blogging. To fill this gap, I am going to run some Daily Devotions from my very first blogging days. This was originally published October 11, 2014

Daily

Matthew 9:9

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”


 

That passage is deceptively simple. To truly understand the significance of what happened, one has to dig a little into the culture and the times being described in it. It almost seems Jesus just wandered by, found Matthew sitting at a table and asked him to come along, which he did; however, there is much more to this than that simple verse relates.

Matthew was a tax collector; he was what we hear referred to a a publican. Basically, Matthew was appointed by the Roman Authorities to collect taxes from the Jews on their behalf. It was not a benign operation, however, as tax collectors did not just stroll door to door asking people to pay what they owed the Roman Government. Tax collectors were not paid employees; they paid themselves so to speak. As an example, imagine that a man owed the Roman government ten dollars in tax. Simply put, the Romans only wanted to get their 10 dollars; anything above and beyond that was the tax collector’s to keep.

Needless to say, the more a tax collector could collect, the more money he could make; additionally, nobody really cared how such a man went about his business. The more ruthless and demanding one was, the wealthier he could be. So, when our passage says Matthew was “sitting at the receipt of custom,” he was not just sitting at a table allowing people to kindly pay their taxes. This told a lot about who Matthew was and his life in general.

Matthew had been likely raised in a devout Jewish home, and surely knew all about the coming Messiah. He may have been hearing all about this man Jesus who claimed to be Him. He may have even known of the miracles and works Jesus was doing. He may have even seen Jesus in action or heard him speak. It’s doubtful that Matthew just jumped up and followed at one simple word from Jesus. But that’s not really the point here.

The point here is that Matthew literally gave up everything to follow Jesus; he relinquished his entire life and existence. Matthew was probably a wealthy man; the better he was at his job, the wealthier he would have been. Once he walked away from his life, he could never return. The Romans certainly would not allow a man to give up his appointed tax collector position then come running back when things didn’t work out. The tax collectors, although Jewish, were hated by the other Jews; they were seen as a sign and symbol of Roman oppression. Matthew, then, could not just go running back to his town and family if things didn’t work out. Matthew was literally turning his back on everything to follow Jesus, and he represents one of the more transformed lives we see in the Bible.

What are we giving up? Are we willing to sacrifice our entire existence to follow Jesus? Are we willing to turn our backs on everything that we  have and commit ourselves to Him? Are we willing to lead a radically transformed life for Him? Are we willing to place ourselves in a position where Jesus is all we have?

One last note about Matthew is applicable to us. Matthew was probably not concerned about what would happen to him if “things didn’t work out.” He followed on faith knowing that Jesus was the savior, and that Jesus would take care of him and his needs both in this life and eternally. Is that what holds us back? Are we too worried about what will happen to us if “things don’t work out?”

Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? More Next Steps

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Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

So, where did we leave off last time? Well, we had discussed our sinning brother. We had gone and talked to our sinning brother. Our prayer had been that he would simply acknowledge what had been going on, repent, and move in a different direction. Sadly, he or she has not. In fact, they have simply ignored our Biblically based counsel and chosen to continue openly and rebelliously on their chosen path. Now what?

Does it really matter that much? Yes, it does. We have covered that pretty completely and I hope arrived at the quite Scriptural conclusion that the transgressions of our brothers and sisters do matter, and sometimes have to be addressed. They may be hurting themselves or another person. Even if they are not, harm is certainly done to both Jesus’ work and His church by open, notorious, and unrepented sin among it’s members.

Since this matters very much to our Lord, He gave us fairly clear instructions on how to progress when a sinning brother chooses to continue in there sin. Here, again is our process:

Matthew 18:15-18

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

But 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. Basically, our brother or sister has ignored us, and we have not won him back, and further action in this matter is needed. Who are the one of two others? Who should that be? Why more people?

So, who should deal with an erring brother? Well, I look and look and don’t find a set pattern for who that should be. Is it the responsibility of the leadership of a church, such as Deacons or Elders? Perhaps. Is it the responsibility for those close to the erring brother or sister? Perhaps. I think it just depends on the nature and character of what is going on to a certain extent.

Let’s say a man or woman is cheating on their spouse, and their circle of friends has become aware of it. That might be the perfect time for those friends to intervene and confront their friend. On the other hand, let us say a person is engaging in malicious and unfounded rumor spreading about the pastor. Perhaps that would be a time for church leadership to step in and say something. Either way, we must always remember the goal here is repentance, a change of behavior, and restoration of the erring person. We are not to approach as if we are the morality police, come to punish the wayward criminal. Personally, I think confronting a situation at the lowest possible level is likely the best way to handle things.

Why two or three more? Well we can see a couple of examples of this thought elsewhere in God’s Word:

Deuteronomy 19:15 A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

1 Timothy 5:19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

If the issue being discussed is an offense from one believer to another, perhaps the presence of several people can mediate the offense and bring all parties back to fellowship with one another. If readers recall, that is precisely happened at my own house after the big boom there. If that happens, the problem is solved, and all becomes well. Problems cannot always be solved, and in that case the presence of more than one person can serve several purposes. It can prevent the unfair and unfounded accusation of wrongdoing by one person against another. It can also provide corroboration of transgressions if a person simply will not repent and turn from their sin.

Again..and again…and yet again. I will say again that the objective of this entire process is not to punish wrong doing. We are, as I have repeated, not the morality police. God is the judge of our hearts, and our actions and only He is authorized to administer justice to a believer. We always have to maintain the focus on what we are trying to accomplish here: repentance and restoration.

Well, there we have it. Our brother or sister is sinning, and will not admit and repent of their activity. We have talked to them privately and we have talked to them by committee so to speak. If things change, that is wonderful and an answered prayer. But, what if they don’t? What then?

Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Next Steps: A Private Conversation

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Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

We are still pondering and exploring this one question from the Gospel of Matthew, and the conversation it records between Peter and our Lord. This continues to be our question, even though we are wandering around quite a bit.

Specifically, we have been talking about a subject often referred to as “church discipline.” We have convered the idea that the transgression of a brother are very much in fact, the business of the church; we have even talked about a situation where sin and error in a church were confronted and dealt with very wisely and Biblically. Now, we are going to talk about how we, as church member, might go about dealing with sin in our midst.

Matthew 18:15-18

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

If 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. We have established that “against you” in this situation may or may not be against personally. In many ways, a sin of any sort is a sin against all of us. Some things seem to come to light here.

Tell him his fault between YOU and him. You who? Is this the preacher’s job? Is it the job of the Deacons or Elders? Clearly if something is done against us directly and personally, we should also deal with it directly and personally. What about other open, unrepented sins among us? Well, just allow me to say this; our preachers and leaders are not in place to be morality police in our congregations. Whose job is it to approach a sinning brother? I would say the person who observes the behavior. One writer said the following: “The person initiating discipline is any believer who is aware of another believer’s sin.”

Accountability partners are good here. I know exactly who is going to come tell me when I mess up, and he knows who is coming to see him when he does. Truly, if we love our friends, we will confront them when they step off the Godly path.

You and him alone. This is a big point. At this point, who really needs to know about what a brother is doing? Well, the offending person knows(maybe), you know, and any others who have personally observed know. At this point, who does NOT need to know? Anybody not on the previous list! I get that some legal issues might require telling others about something, but really, this should be a completely private matter.

When is the best time to approach a situation such as this? When it happens. Sins allowed to be fully developed and become habitual are much harder to eradicate from our lives than those we face honestly earlier. In fact, it is entirely possible that our brother has absolutely no clue there is a problem.

Attitude counts. The truth is that none of us want to be told we are doing wrong. At least I don’t, and I assume that is true for readers as well. We have to confront the sins of our brother openly and honestly, yet without condemnation. Telling someone what they are doing is not the same as condemnation. Our goal here is not just to inform them they are wrong, or to establish our own perfectness in the eyes of another. Our goal is to teach what is right, and bring a person back into fellowship. Any conversation with our brother such as this has to be done in meekness and humility, with an obvious air of reconciliation on our part.

To sum up. The truth is that discipline and restoration is not easy; it is a difficult subject. It can be an uncomfortable and difficult task. It is, however, a necessary one. God is love, and we should be the earthly expression of that love as well. Sin is destructive to the sinner, it is destructive to others, and it is destructive to the work of God and our churches. We do not love anyone by simply turning our heads and ignoring it. Even worse would be to ignore our brother’s faults with an air of smug indifference our self righteous contempt; what would be sin on our own part.

If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Done properly, in love, and with meekness and humility this entire process can end right there. After all, isn’t that the goal? If our brother acknowledges his issue, honestly repents and commits to staying on the path then nothing further need happen.

It doesn’t always work that way, though, does it? If our brother refuses to listen and repent, what then?

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