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Galatians 6:1

Galatians 6:1 reveals truly spiritual people going to those who have left the Lord.  These spiritual people filled with gentleness and a healthy sense of their own shortcomings humbly encourage the erring to come back to the Lord.  There is no indication in that passage about the “go-er” being offended by the “go-ee.”  In Matthew’s gospel, the circumstances center around what to do when there is an offender and an offended.  Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17.

First, we have the occasion.  Specifically, Jesus focuses on an occasion where a brother trespasses against us.  What does that mean?  It means he has hurt or wronged us in some way.  Have you ever been hurt by a brother in Christ?  Has someone sinned against you?  That offense can be a powerful negative influence in your personal, spiritual life.  You can let it make you bitter, wrathful, vindictive, hateful, or manipulative.  It is easy to let the sin of another lead us to behave sinfully in return.

But, then, we have the operating procedure.  In other words, what does Jesus say we are to do when a brother sins against us?  Notice carefully.  Keep it private, a one on one matter.  The way you execute that private confrontation hearkens back to Galatians 6:1.  You do not go angrily or as a wounded martyr.  How we rebel against God here!  The most common response when we are sinned against is to sin by disobeying the Lord here.  We tell others about the offense without ever having gone to the brother.  Not only is this the coward’s way out, often it is a carnal response of lashing out and trying to get even.

So, we must remember the objective.  The objective, which is clearly stated, is to win your brother.  It is not to win back your pride and honor, it is not to win an argument, and it is not to win an upper hand in the relationship.  Remember that any of us could easily find ourselves in the “offender” role.  How would we want to be treated?

Yet, there is an unmistakable obligation.  If the one on one confrontation, carried out in a godly manner, is unsuccessful, we are to take one or two with us, and if that fails to win the offender back  we must take it to the church.  The worst-case scenario of that obligation is to withdraw fellowship from those who simply refuse to repent.

But here is what happens if these procedure is followed as laid out by Jesus.  We will have had to show great love and compassion to do what the Lord says in a way scripture says to do it (cf. Gal. 6:1-2).  We will have had to show the highest form of love in being willing to go to the farthest lengths to bring them back to Christ.  We will have had to exercise humility, compassion, and dependency upon God.  It is amazing how often handling offenses the way Jesus commands results in restoration rather than rebellion.  If a brother or sister has offended you, give up the grudge.  Release the resentment.  Part with the pride.  Have the humility and spirituality to handle your wound His way!

–Neal Pollard

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