Our scripture today is Matthew 18:15-17.
“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.”
Jesus knows that as humans we will always have to deal with conflict, even among brothers and sisters in the church. Sadly, our feelings about issues can separate us from even those closest to us. Disagreement about things is not necessarily sin, but how we treat each other while disagreeing can be.
Jesus gives us some specific steps to resolve these situations. In all of these, communication with each other is essential. While Jesus didn’t mention it, the assumption is that we ask God for discernment first. He urges us then to speak privately with each other before we involve those outside the situation.
His final words “and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” sound harsh – are we really instructed to cut them out of our lives? Think about how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors and you have your answer. We are never to give up on resolving our differences and being an active part of God’s family.
Loving Lord, we often let our opinions divide us and fail to love each other as You first loved us. Forgive us and lead us back to a connection with all our brothers and sisters. Amen.