I don't know about you, but I love baseball. More specifically, I love the St. Louis Cardinals (I live just 25 miles from the stadium). I love the strategy, how the game changes as it goes deeper into innings, and I must say, I enjoy watching Tony LaRussa (or any manger) charge out of the dugout to the umpire to dispute a call.
However, we must remember, this is just a game. According to the Word of God, this is not how we are to handle disputes in the church.
Matthew 18:15-20 (HCSB)
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.
16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established.
17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.
18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.
19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”
Sinning against a brother is a matter of great concern to God. It is so serious that if the offending brother refuses to rectify the matter, he is to be severely disciplined (Matthew 18:17). However, when dealing with discipline, two critical points are to be noted.
- The sinning brother is a brother, a genuine believer. He sins against another brother. The breach is between two genuine believers who are in the church.
- The trespass is a personal offense; that is, the wrong and harm are done against another person. A fellow Christian believer is injured, hurt, and damaged in some way.
God has one great concern: He wants peace restored. He wants peace between the brothers, and He wants peace within the church. The disturbance caused by two offending brothers is so damaging that God lays down very specific steps as to how the matter is to be handled; and if the sinning brother refuses to be reconciled and to rectify the wrong, God says the disturbance is not to be tolerated any longer.
Christ knew we would have disputes from time-to-time, therefore, He gave us a few guidelines in how to handle ourselves when we are offended:
- Go to the brother alone and tell him his fault. (vs. 15)
- Go to the brother with witnesses. (vs. 16)
- Go before the church. (vs. 17)
I will expound on these in the days to come, so be sure to check back soon!