Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
I often wonder how many of us actually do what the Gospel tells us to do when a Brother or Sister sins against us? I mean, confronting sin “all the way”… Confronting sin is hard, but per the Gospel (and Galatians 6:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 1 Timothy 5:20, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20, Luke 17:3, among other Scripture), we are called to rebuke sin and Sinners in a firm, direct, and genuinely-loving manner. Confronting sin can often be uncomfortable and hard to do; especially when we risk losing something through the process (possibly even losing that Friend). While many of us have at least done the first step that Jesus commands us to do, a much less percentage of us will actually move on to the second step of bringing one or two others with us to expand the discussion with the Sinner. It is way more common for folks to take things through a stranger(s) (e.g. a Judge or Court), than it is for folks to try to work things out amongst themselves. And, the third step – taking it to the Church? I honestly don’t know anyone directly that has ever done this; and, that includes me (who also has never really done the second step). Alcoholic Anonymous (AA – a Faith-founded Ministry to help folks and Families recover from the dark side of alcohol) is great at these steps – some might say that they’ve even mastered the process. They don’t just jump (like many of us) to the fourth step of putting the Sinner outside of their lives. Maybe that’s because AA is founded on the Rock of Jesus Christ – maybe they’re really on to Something (or Someone). I think that if we’re all really honest with ourselves, one of the reasons that we back down from all of these steps (and too often jump directly to the fourth step) is our own Faith. Maybe we don’t Trust Jesus on this one? The process here (for sure Steps 2 and 3) in our world can seem very awkward at times and, many times, we just want someone to pay for how they’ve hurt us – instead of Trusting it all to God (the process, pain, sin, forgiveness, judgement, etc.). When we’re caught in this circle of not Trusting Jesus with all of this, we only need to look to the Cross of Christ to remember (and recalibrate upon) what Jesus did (and does) for us. Jesus came and gives us Mercy when we don’t deserve it. He gives us Grace (an Eternity with Him in Heaven) when we haven’t earned it. What He did was so Amazing that 2,000 years after His crucifixion, death, and resurrection, roughly 2.4 billion people call Him their Lord. He fundamentally changed the course of His-story and, as the Servant Leader that He ultimately is, He led by example. So, if someone has recently sinned around us (or the next time someone does), let’s all try our best with God’s Guidance and Grace to Obey the process that Jesus established for us. Whatever the “worldly-cost” of following this Spiritual Process, we are Guaranteed to be Rewarded Eternally for it via Jesus Christ.