June 6

Text: Matthew 18:15-17

 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.  And 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-gatherer. (NASB)

Being led by Jesus and his teachings is not a simple, convenient commitment.  To this point, Jesus’ emphasis in Matthew 18 featured the importance of relationship.  Human-to-human relationships are challenging and difficult!  Following Jesus increases the difficulty and challenges of relationship.

Why? For many reasons.  (1) God created us to be a people of integrity who value relationship.  (2) Pure evil despises integrity and champions selfishness—not relationship.  (3) The more we are influenced by evil, the more we champion selfishness and devalue the importance of relationship.  (4) While we were designed to exist by principles of integrity, we exist in an evil  world.  (5) Integrity and selfishness constantly clash in our personal lives, in our attempts at relationships, in our society, and in the world’s interactions.  (6) Even the best integrity relationships we produce now are inferior to the integrity relationships we were designed to have and enjoy.  (7) Jesus influences people to champion God’s integrity values and oppose evil’s selfishness values, but integrity is not the way of this world.

If you conclude following Jesus makes human relationships easier, consider several things.  (1) Consider the Jew-Gentile clash among Christians in the first century church (Acts 15:1-21).  (2) Consider the clash among Jewish Christians in Acts 6:1-6.  (3) Consider the Christians Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10.  (4) Read 1 Corinthians 8.  Following Jesus challenges the “normal” way of life in this world.

 Through relationship we should approach the sinful brother privately.  One goes “public” only if private interaction does not produce rectification.  The objective is peace produced by concern, not confrontation produced by selfishness. 

The challenges of relationship intensify as evil influences increase.  Resisting evil intensifies dedication to godly relationships—in the family and in the church, which is our spiritual family.

Suggestion for reflection: How do you bless godly relationships in your life?  (Read Psalm 119:73-80.)

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