(The following is the January 20 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 18 and pay close attention to verses 15-17.)
People sometimes sin against us, and we’re guilty of the same against others. When that happens, it hurts regardless of the nature of the relationship. It cuts deeply when this occurs between fellow Christians. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. How should we respond?
Jesus gives clear steps to take when a fellow believer sins against us. First, we should have a private conversation with the person. “Go and rebuke him in private” (v. 15). We shouldn’t respond by complaining to others uninvolved or publicly criticizing the person. We should privately confront the person and attempt to restore the relationship. If all goes well, reconciliation is the result.
If the private conversation doesn’t achieve the desired outcome, we should involve one or two others. If the wrongdoer remains unrepentant, it’s time for a larger group from the church to give the person a third opportunity. If the person rejects the church’s guidance, the wrongdoer knowingly lives contrary to God’s Word and the church's collective wisdom. That demands disciplinary action from the church toward the person. The goal isn’t punishment but restoration. The church must remain the pure bride of Christ, united under the authority of Christ and his Word.
Conflict is challenging. It affects the fellowship of the body of Christ and the church’s witness in the world. Handle such occasions carefully, lovingly, and according to Jesus’ teaching. Trust that his Word gives us the best approach when someone sins against us.
Has a fellow Christian wronged you, resulting in an estranged relationship? If so, pray for that person and for wisdom from God regarding what to say to them. Speak to the person privately and attempt to restore the relationship by following Jesus’ steps. If you have sinned against someone else, quickly repent before God and that person to fix what sin broke.