Our scripture this week is Matthew 18:15-20.
If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Jesus speaks of handling dissent among ourselves in this passage. He knew that we would continue to have arguments and disagreements, and gave us a way of settling them as brothers and sisters. His loving instruction to us is the best way of dealing with conflict, in the church and in the world.
He tells us to speak about the problem one on one. Personal contact is the best way for us to reach each other, and it is both the most satisfying and the most difficult. Jesus knows that face to face conversation helps us to be open and honest, something that is often impossible with other forms of communication.
Personal discussion of a disagreement should begin with only those involved He tells us. Too often we share our problems with the world before giving private conversation a chance. Jesus says “go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone”, indicating it is our duty to approach them and not to include the community at first. If we listen to this lesson, our chances of resolving our issues are greatly improved.
Loving Lord, we are a people who often let our disagreements separate us from one another. Teach us patience and caring to be able to deal with our problems, putting Your love above all else. Amen.