I really enjoy the premise around the TV show “What Would You Do?” It is a hidden camera show where the hosts watch how ordinary people react when these ordinary people are confronted with situations that require them to say and do something or to walk by and mind their own business. I am often amazed by how many people choose not to get involved.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wonder if you should say something? This can be a difficult question to answer, “Should I say something about how someone is eating, sleeping, working, using money, or raising a family?” Wow, these may seem like landmines that could explode if you step on them. “I wonder if I should say something?” These are words that can tear you up inside.
Most of my situations involve other people’s children. I can attest that all of us can get a little defensive about our children, including myself. However, time and time again, I would find myself with some knowledge of how a child was behaving or performing, and then I would wonder if I should say something to the child or their parents.
Matthew 18:15-17 says, “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. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
In these verses, God is defining His instructions on discipline and godly order within the local assemblies of the church. The principle is pretty clear that we as brothers and sisters in Christ are to go alone and try to bring our brother or sister in Christ to repentance. We are not to tell their sins and transgressions to the world.
In Galatians 6:1, we read, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
This verse takes it to the next level. If our brother or sister is overtaken in a fault, we need to restore them. We are to help them own their sins and then put things right. The goal is to help them seek forgiveness. We are to forgive!
In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, it further states that we need to forgive a man upon evidence of his repentance, “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure - not to put it too severely - to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
We need to forgive. Colossians 3:13 makes this clear, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
We need to realize that nobody will be happier than the Father at the repentance of His child. We see this in the picture of the Father in the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:20-24 states, “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
We need to care about the spiritual growth of other believers, and when confronting them we must speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 reads, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Moreover, 1 Peter 4:8 reads, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
You may be thinking, okay, but what if your brother will not turn toward repentance? What if he lies or will not admit his wrongs? What would you do then? We go back to Matthew 18:16, “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”The Scriptures are clear. We have a duty to confront and lovingly speak the truth. So, what do we do if he will not listen to the witnesses? Further in verse 17, it states, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”We cannot just walk away from something that is so important to the spiritual condition of a brother.
John MacArthur points out, “The idea is not merely to punish the offender, or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and then to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than a brother.”
Basically, we need to pray for the salvation of a brother that refuses to turn away from sin. We need to concern ourselves with the outline that God has given to us in His Word, and it all starts with our willingness to go one-on-one in confronting sin. I have one question for you, “What would you do?”