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 is showing us that we need to watch over each other in love. It’s not so much a matter of correcting others – we have already been warned about that when He taught “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). We have also heard “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
We often get wrapped up in our own understanding of who’s right and who’s wrong, and we stand firm in our opinions, forgetting what Jesus taught us. While we argue amongst ourselves, the problems we claim to care about only get worse and we end up pointing fingers and casting stones at those with whom we disagree. This passage instructs us to settle our differences peacefully and even when we don’t reach a happy conclusion, continue to love each other.
“Yes Lord, we understand, but they don’t, we know You are on our side” we say to ourselves. Jesus sadly shakes His head and tries once more to explain that the “sides” we make up so we can be “right” are diversions from the path on which He leads us. Instead of asking Jesus to agree with us, let’s agree with Him, following His teaching and sharing His love.
Gracious God, we are contentious creatures, seeking our own way instead of Yours. Help us to bear Your love to everyone everywhere, seeking the joy of our connection to You. Amen.