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Jul 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-two – Matthew 18:15-20

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church . . . . Matthew 18:15-7

The bulk of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew is centered on the kingdom of heaven. His intention was to get his followers to see and enter the kingdom (v. 4). In this passage, Jesus anticipates a problem arising among “brothers” in the community of believers. Therefore, entering the kingdom is not the end of the journey. We have to continue on together until we reach our destination. Along the way, we will likely run into problems with our traveling companions.

In the previous parable, the shepherd left ninety-nine sheep safe in their pen while he went in search of the one that was lost. Here he invites our participation in that process. The brother who sins is the sheep gone astray.

Jesus wisely warns us to first approach our brother “in private”–this, of course, would preclude blogs or books as the forum for calling out a brother. We would also do well to remember what he already said about humbling ourselves (v. 4). To do otherwise would likely have the opposite effect than what we desire.

The Lord calls his whole community to the ministry of restoration, authorizing them to act on heaven’s behalf (v. 18). The authorization, however, is conditional. The church must be a community of prayer, formed by the person, teaching, and character of Jesus who is among them when they are “gathered together” (vv. 19-20).

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, we have been on both sides of these encounters. In the future, if we must go after a brother or sister who has strayed, may that person feel through us the intensity of Your love. If we are the one being rescued, grant us the grace to return with humility–even if the one who comes to get us has none of Your kindness and sensitivity. Save and bless Your church.

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