From: Su Min
Subject: (14 Feb) Reconciliation
Friday 14th February 1997
Epistle to The CyberChurch
GREETINGSTo my brothers and sisters in Christ: What a joy it is to have you as my extended family: The blessings of The Lord God Almighty be upon you!
TEXTToday we look at Matthew_18:15-19 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 (Matthew_18:15)
But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be settled by the testimony of two or three witnesses' (Matthew_18:16)
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 (Matthew_18:17)
I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew_18:18)
Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (Matthew_18:19)
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew_18:20)
CONTEXTJesus was teaching about "greatness" and the need for humility. Be like little children (Matthew_18:1-5). Do not cause them to sin (Matthew_18:6-9).
God wants to rescue all sinners (Matthew_18:10-14). If your brother sins against you, do not let his sin be a burden against his soul, but liberate him, free him from the sin by winning him over (Matthew_18:15-20).
RECONCILIATIONWhy does God's word bring us the theme on reconciliation on St Valentine's day: Tis not Valentine the day to talk of roses, love, romance, starry eyes, dreamy dreams, knights on white horses, beautiful princesses, living happily ever after...? but yes, of course...
The strangest thing is, the closer they are to us, the more they can hurt us: husband-wife, father-child, sibling, lovers: these are the people we love the most, and these are the people who can hurt us the most: and we them.
And as lovers will tell you, some of the bitterest moments are after petty lover's quarrels: the tiniest remark triggering off a great nasty argument: two persons who were one in love now stand divided: a great rift separates them: a bridge is needed to patch up...
God's word to us brings a pathway to bridge the gap between two persons once bound together in friendship, but now separated by words of anger: a misunderstanding: a broken trust... In human terms impossible to bridge the gap. But with God all things are possible. A detailed programme for reconciliation is laid out for us...
JUST BETWEEN THE TWOIf 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.
The first significant step is to "GO".
Do not wait for him to come.
You take the first step in reconciliation.
It takes humility to do so.
But if each one stands on their own selfish pride, no healing will happen.
The wound will fester. The rot will set in.
So be prepared to make the first move. Be prepared to say "I am sorry".
Come off your own high horse and go to him to make peace.
Secondly, do not do in it front of a crowd, do not make a public scene of it, but keep it just between the two of you. It is much easier for him to come to terms with you in private. It is less destructive and less ugly than airing all the dirty linen in public.
Having gone and met your brother in private, exercise great humility and discretion. Be bold enough to admit your contribution to the conflict: it takes two to make a fight, and it takes two to make up. Evaluate your own weakness in front of him. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew_7:4). Put your own house in order. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother's eye. Words of wisdom indeed.
Be loving enough to express your appreciation for his good points: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what ever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things (Philippians_4:8).
Be gentle in showing him his sin, pointing out how his action has infringed upon you. Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians_4:32). A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs_15:1)
"Stupid" and " Idiot" have no place in a conversation in front of Jesus.
Avoid absolutes like, “You always", "I told you a thousand times". Avoid hurtful adjectives. Do not focus on the offender but rather the offence.
Focus on the action and its impact on you.
E.g., "when the used clothes are left on the floor in the middle of the room it upsets me because I find it looks untidy".
Focus on the currant issue. Do not drag up past mistakes and old scores.
Love keeps no records of wrongs (1 Colossians_13:5).
If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Both of you are reunited in love. Neither of you are left out in the cold, easy prey to the roaming lion that seeks to devour and destroy. Both of you are safely in the fold.
IF HE WILL NOT LISTENBut if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be settled by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he will not listen, you are to widen the net a little. Present your case to one or two dear trusted friends. Listen to their council. Do they agree that you have been wronged?. Perhaps you were too hasty, too harsh? If after due consultation they agree that you do have a case to present, meet your offender again, and again, in due humility. If he is so moved to reconciliation, then let that be in front of two witnesses.
PENULTIMATE STEPIf 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.
The penultimate step to an unnegotiable settlement is to bring the matter up to the whole church body. It is a last step, not the first step. Some people mistakenly start screaming at the top of their voices to the whole world when infringed upon. Ugly. Not what Jesus wants. Against God's will. It is only after the offender has dismissed approach by a small group of three that the matter, if it is serious enough, may be raised before the general body. Perhaps when faced by the whole body of believers there will, by the grace of God, be a change of heart: a softening of the resolve, a willingness to come to terms.
LAST STEPand if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan.
It seems to me that the offence must be of a great magnitude for one to be expelled from the community of saints. But exactly how does one treat a pagan? Did not Jesus dine with the sinners and the tax collectors? Did he not have compassion for the adulteress?
You do not associate with them intimately, you do not invite them into your bed.
But you may eat with them, and pray for them, that God will continue to seek them out, and bring them back to the fold. Indeed are they not like that one sheep that got lost.. Does not the Good Shepherd go out to rescue them?
WHATEVER YOU BIND WILL BE BOUNDI tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew_18:18)
The Greek grammar used here, the perfect passive participle, tells us that our correct earthly judgements are those that have already been made in heaven:
It is not the case that God is subservient to our every whim and fancy: how could He possibly be? The creature controls the creator? No way!!
But it must mean that if we pray and meditate and search our hearts, we will make the decisions that are congruent with God's perfect will.
The Amplified version makes it clearer: "Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven."
WHATEVER YOU ASK FORAgain I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (Matthew_18:19)
Likewise, this is not a mantra that enables us to demand anything that comes upon our fancy: but rather, taken in context with the previous verse, must be seen as requiring that these requests are congruent with God's perfect will.
THE PRESENCE OF JESUSFor where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew_18:20)
And how do we pray to have the will of God in our hearts? By gathering even 2 or 3 believers together: and they are blessed with the very presence of Jesus. Submitting their will to His, surely their prayers to do the will of God will be answered, to the glory of The Kingdom.
I believe that this paragraph Matthew_18:18-20_is primarily focused on winning back lost sheep. Yes, it may be taken to apply in other aspects of life as well. Certainly where 2 or 3 are gathered in the Name of Jesus, he blesses them with His presence. And as to agreeing about anything we ask for, it will certainly be done for us by our Father in heaven if it is congruent with His perfect will.
VALENTINELet me close for today with a personalised love letter to my wife, guided by the text from 1 Colossians_13:4-7.
To the love of my life,
the wife of my youth,
my companion and my helpmate,
my dearest darling:
With God's help, I pledge that I will be patient with you and for you for as long as the both of us shall live;
I will endure through thick and thin, through life's ups and downs: for better for worse: in sickness and in health: we will laugh together, cry together.
I will be kind to you.
I will not envy you for anything you do better than me.
I will put out the fire and not boil over with jealousy.
I will not boast about what I do.
I will not be vainglorious nor display myself haughtily.
I will not puff myself up with selfpride, arrogance and conceit.
I will not be rude, unmannerly, nor act unbecomingly.
I will not insist on my own rights or my own way.
I will not be touchy or fretful, or resentful.
I will take no account of any mistakes or wrongdoings on your part.
I will harbour no ill thoughts against you, but appreciate it when you show
me my mistakes.
I will always protect you, always trust you, always pray for God's blessing
upon you, and never stop trying to do all these.
May my promise made here on earth be ratified by the angels in heaven
And hereto I pledge thee my love
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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