“If they still refuse…” (Matthew 18:17)
This week we’ve discussed relationships, specifically how they relate to Matthew 18. Feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post to read earlier posts.
Verse 17 should not be taken lightly. We read, “If they still refuse…” (18:17) Unfortunately, there may come a time where one of us refuses to listen to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Even when the grace and tact has been taken to explain our sin, testimony has been given. Sometimes we choose to dig our heels in and refuse to listen. This is a devastating situation.
The relationship is about to crumble.
Though this passage doesn’t outline it directly, we could try including the Elders at this point. Perhaps, with their help, we could make one last effort to save the relationship before this sin issue has to go public.
After all, much consideration should be taken before opening up a sin issue on a Sunday morning or at a congregational meeting. Getting the Elders input might ease the blow to the church.
“…tell it to the church…” (18:17)
So now we arrive at a truly grave situation where we’re forced to “…tell it to the church…” We realize that the relationship is not going to be restored. Therefore, the matter of sin must be brought before the church.
I should mention that sometimes this text is misquoted as “bring them before the church” or “bring the accused before the church”.
The accused might not show up.
Furthermore, the church doesn’t have armed guards to drag someone to a congregational meeting. But there’s always chance that they might attend, which may be a last chance to restore them.
Unfortunately, history has shown that at this point in the sin process, many people don’t want anything to do with the church. So how should we treat these folks?
“…a pagan or a tax collector.” (18:17)
Matthew 18 tells us to treat them like “…a pagan or a tax collector.” In modern-day, we treat them like any other unbelieving person, in position of the Gospel.
These folks are no longer included in church ministries, programs or decisions. However, may we never give up on them entirely.
We must love them.
Furthermore, we fervently pray for their repentance, even after these last steps have failed. With Jesus, there is always a chance for reconciliation, always a chance to restore the relationship.
And so, we continue to share the Gospel with these brothers and sisters, through kindness and Biblical truth.
In 2 Corinthians 2 we read,
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient.
Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2:5-8)
The relationship takes precedence.
Even after the majority of the assembly; the majority of the church has inflicted punishment on someone. Overwhelming love, forgiveness and comfort can and will bring that person back.
The earthly relationship continues to be matter, even after the person has been removed from the church.
How awesome that God’s plan is to never give up?
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
At what point should the church give up on reconciliation, restoration and relationship?