In yesterday’s post I talked about Jesus instructions in Matthew 18 on how we should handle conflict with a brother. Well, today I’m going to tell you when it might be OK to ignore this… sort of.
A few weeks ago a person I know posted something hurtful on my wife’s Facebook wall. I don’t think this person intended to hurt her, but it still hurt. So, I confronted this person. After all Jesus said I should “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” And that’s exactly what I did. Well, it was a disaster. As a result of this many people that we care about got mad at us and even went so far as to unfriend us on Facebook.
While I did not say anything that I do not believe, I am sorry that I said it. I am sorry because of the pain and conflict that it has caused. I mean these are people that I have loved for over 20 years and here I was certain that they would not be speaking to me for quite some time. I have spent many happy days with these people and now I don’t know if I ever will again.
But, Jesus told me to….
Jesus said, “If a brother sins against you….” The key word here is BROTHER. When Jesus used this word he would have been talking about other Christians, other Christ followers. While the instructions here seem like sound advice for all situations, it is not. Jesus chose to make a distinction here. He clearly states that these instructions are how to handle an offense from a brother, from a fellow follower of Christ. In the story above, the person who had caused this offense against my wife is not a Christian. As such these instructions from Jesus do not apply.
You see, when we read the Bible we have to remember one thing. The Bible was written for believers… Now before you start typing your reply, read on… Instructions on how we should live our lives are in there for US. The gospel is for those that have not trusted in Jesus for their eternal life, but the rest of it is for us. Now, some may argue that because the Gospel is the central theme for the entire Bible, then the entire Bible is for believers and non-believers alike. I agree, but when it comes to instructions on how we should live our lives that stuff is written for believers.
So, if a brother sins against you, then do what Jesus said and “show him his fault.” However, if the person who has sinned against you is not a believer, then the best approach may be to just show them grace and move on.Matt Norman
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