We are going to read verses 15-20, and are going to be focussing on Verse 16 today. I will say that if you missed last week, please go listen to the audio online. Last week was the first step of Biblical conflict resolution, and today we are looking at the second step in the process.
OK, so today we are looking again at what Jesus has told us to do when we have been sinned against by a brother or sister in Christ. I am going to take this a piece at a time, just like i did last week, and again, if you have questions, we will have some Q and A afterwards.
So, picking up after last week, going to the person one on one and sharing your offense with them in a humble and honest way is the first thing you do. Verse 16 begins with, “if they do not listen to you.” Now, this can be a variety of responses. they can outright disagree and argue with you, they can get defensive, and lash back at you, or they might even give some type of blanket apology. Something that makes it clear that they dont think they did anything wrong, but they say, I am sorry for whatever it is you are upset about. The basis of the need for the second step is the lack of listening, and the lack of repentance. Now, at this point, let me stop and define repentance again. The word for Repent also can be translated to change one’s mind. It is a turning away from something. So, in order for the result to be what Jesus is looking for, repentance is needed. So, if someone gives a blanket apology, just to get you to let something go, they have not changed their mind, and they have not listened. Confession and repentance go hand in hand. IN Ken Sande’s Peacemaker, he gives the 7 A’s of confession to help people understand what it means for them to confess, as opposed to a blanket apology aimed at brushing the problem under the rug. Those are:
• Address everyone involved
• Avoid if, but, and maybe (don’t make excuses)
• Admit specifically (both attitudes and actions)
• Apologize (express godly sorrow for the way she affected Larry)
• Accept the consequences
• Alter your behavior (commit to changing harmful habits)
• Ask for forgiveness
SO, here we are, if there is not confession and repentance, Jesus says to let it go, swallow your hurt, and just deal with it right? Shove that hurt down deep, and pretend like nothing happened… Actually, I kinda wish that was the case, but again, Jesus calls us often to the harder work of honesty, and of dealing with issues head on.
He says, if they do not listen, take one or two others along with you: So, the first time we have another person involved in this process is after we have gone ot the other person one on one. And when we go, we don’t tell others about it to get their opinion, or to vent, we take them along with us to have another conversation. Now, at this point my question becomes, who do you take with you? Well, first off, I think we can assume that they should be a believer, that is for sure. I would also say that they should be someone who will maintain confidence. This is so important that the person, or people you take with you will keep the details and the discussion to themselves. Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” and later in 20:19 it says, “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, therefor do not associate with a simple babbler.” So, after being a Christian, the person must be able keep the things that are said in confidence. Next, they also should be someone who can be impartial. Many times in these types of situations, there is wrongdoing on both parts, and so the person who is helping needs to be able to be objective in the situation. They need to take to understand the truth in Proverbs 18:17 that says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” This person should be able to separate their own feelings from the situation and be able to help you sort through your own feelings about the situation. Also, this person should be mature in their faith. They should have an understanding of the Biblical process, and be able to look at the situation with Biblical glasses on, and not inserting their own prejudices and hurts into the situation. At this point I want to stop and ask. Are you the type of person who someone can ask to help in this situation? Are you able to keep confidence? are you able to be impartial? Are you maturing in your faith? Instead of looking around to see if other people measure up to these qualities, let’s determine to be this type of person.
So now that we have talked a little bit about who we should bring along with us, lets look at the purpose for bringing the one or two others along with you: look again at the verse… it says, “ so the charge may be established by two or three witnesses.” The origin of this principle is found in Deuteronomy 19:15. It says, “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.” and also in 2 Corinthians 13:1 “This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” So, having more than one person see the behavior of the person being accused is necessary to having the charge established. So, these people are there to witness something. What are they there to witness? Well, it doesn’t say exactly, but I think we can assume that they are not there to witness the initial offense. But they are there to witness the response to the confrontation. They are there to be an accountability to the offender who may feel free to continue their assault or defensiveness one on one, but when there are witnesses involved, they may feel the accountability of the body, and be more receptive to critique. These People are also there to appeal to the offender to repent. They are not there to be the judge, or to hand down a verdict, but if they do see the same sin that the accuser sees, they should also appeal to the wrongdoer to repent of their sin, and turn to the Lord. Again, this process is not about beating someone down for messing up, it is about appealing to a brother or sister to be restored to a right relationship. If we ever lose sight of that fact, we turn this into a process of policing people. We must keep our eyes at all times on reconciliation. That is what this is about. Remember that our witness as a church is at steak in this process. This is an opportunity to display the Gospel…
Ok, so if they do not listen and repent, we are told here by Jesus to take one or two others with us to witness what is going on. Now, hopefully these witnesses will be successful in appealing for repentance, but if they are not, they will be crucial in the next step, which we will discuss next week.
Are there any questions?
At this time, we are going to enter a time of reflection and introspection. Chris is going to come up and lead us in a song. While he is playing, please ask the Lord to move in your heart to show you what you need to do to respond to this word. If you have a conflict with a brother or sister, what is the next step you need to take? Also, if you are not currently in a conflict, ask the Lord to show you how to be the type of person that someone might bring along.