“Not My Normal Response”

Matthew 18:15-20

“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. 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. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I have been in many conflicts in my life, and I must admit I rarely handle them the way this scripture instructs us to. These verses on resolving conflict almost seem foreign to me. I am someone who does not like conflict and find it extremely uncomfortable. When someone wrongs me, my first response is to excommunicate them, or shut them out and just try and avoid the situation, hoping it fixes itself. But time and time again, it never plays out that way.

The church is full of troublesome people, and Christ knew that when he spoke these words. But what he tells us is the way the church will be set apart in how we handle conflict. It will not be ignored. There should not be gossip or talking behind someone’s back. It should be addressed head-on and face to face (not hiding behind text messages). We should handle conflicts with reconciliation as our goal. Not in an “I’m right you’re wrong” kind of way. And, if that doesn’t work, we are instructed to take a couple trustworthy witnesses to help us work out the problem. Then, if all else fails take the issue in front of the church. This is the part that seems so foreign to me. The last thing I want is for something I’ve done wrong to be brought up in front of the WHOLE CHURCH!

Jesus knew that there would be conflict between us and he knew the only way to handle it. If you have a problem with someone, do what these verses say and regain your brother or sister. Yes, it can get awkward and even messy. But the only way to fully reconcile any relationship is to listen to the One who knows us and knows our hearts.

While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions: 
  • Are you more inclined to run toward or away from a conflict? 
  • Is there someone that you are in conflict with now (recent or long-term)?  
  • Pray that God would give you the wisdom and strength to resolve the issue in a way that restores a relationship and the fellowship of the body of Christ. 
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you? 
Explain – what does the passage mean? 
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today? 
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Brice Alumbaugh

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