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Restoring Relationships

May 10, 2018

Relationships are messy. Two people trying to work together or live together is going to lead to problems.

Selfish people marry selfish people. Greedy people work with greedy people. Bitter people go to church with bitter people. Angry people share an apartment with angry people. The sin that’s within each of us causes us to be selfish, seeking our own desires. And the other person in the relationship is selfish, seeking their own desires.

It makes a mess.

Or, it makes a beautiful, strong relationship that will withstand the ups and downs of life. A relationship that builds on a solid foundation, producing a bond of support and encouragement strengthening the individuals.

The Bible has a lot to say about relationships. One important lesson that Jesus taught was how to handle the situation when your brother sins against you. What do you do, if your partner cheats on you? What do you do, if your boss offends you? What do you do, if your roommate steals something?

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.

Matthew 18:15ESV

The first principle here is that this is between brothers. Not physical brothers, but in the context of the church, the family of God. This instruction applies specifically to a situation where both parties claim to be believers in Jesus Christ. (Yes, Christians will sin against each other).

The first step is for you to go to that fellow Christian and tell him what he has done against you. Maybe he isn’t aware. Maybe he is trying to hide his sin. You don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Your responsibility is to go to him and let him know.

It’s important to note that this verse talks about “sins against you.” You’re not going on someone else’s behalf. You’re not sending someone else on your behalf. You’re not going because you heard a rumor. This case is specifically when someone else commits a sin against you.

“Between you and him.” Personal confrontation is never easy. It’s much easier to blab it on social media, maybe in hidden wording, but not directly to the person who has sinned. In the old days, people shared prayer requests with cloaked meanings. But that’s wrong. Go to the person, one-on-one, and tell him what he sin he has committed.

“If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” The goal is restoration. You might be surprised at the outcome, and there is a wide range of possibilities. You can’t control the possibilities. You can’t control his response, but that doesn’t matter. You’re task is to confront him about his sin against you.

The opposite is also true: If he doesn’t listen to you, you have lost your brother. It may be that he won’t listen. He may not be willing to deal with the sin. He may start throwing accusations back at you. He may slam the door and tell you to take a hike.

You can’t control the outcome. But you can control what you do. Your responsibility is to go to him and confront him with is sin against you.

The other options are not options for the believer. Closing the person out of your life is not an option. Spreading rumors is not an option. Bitterness, anger, shaming, blameshifting, slander and gossip are not options. Keeping a score book and dumping a ton at one time is not an option…nor are any other methods that we can think of, or maybe even practiced.

If he sins against you, sit down and compassionately and clearly explain what he did that was wrong.

It may not turn out the way you want, but you will have been obedient.

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