From Pastor Brady
This week we attempt to get very practical in our understanding of how to deal with conflict within the church. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a three step process for approaching someone whose sin is hurting you or the church body. This week we will focus primarily on step one.
“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. Matthew 18:15
1. The Gospel.
Read Matthew 18:12-14. God goes after the one lost lamb. How is Jesus’ command to go to our brother or sister a picture of how God pursued us as the lost lamb? In what way is God asking us to do what He has already done?
The gospel tells us that we are 1) more wicked than we ever dared imagine, while also 2) more loved than we ever dared hope. How can these two gospel truths help prevent and resolve any relational conflict that we may have?
*Note: In Luke 15 the “lost sheep” story is used to show how God pursues unbelievers. Here in Matthew 18 the “lost sheep” story is used to show how God pursues believers. God pursues everyone!
For families: read Matthew 18:12-14 with your family. Play hide and seek and relate it to how God seeks for the lost lamb. Emphasize with your children how much God loves them, that He would always go after them.
2. Why we go to our brother or sister.
Read Matthew 18:1-15. In the sermon we talked about why we go to our brother or sister when they are living in unrepentant harmful sin. We go because of our commitment to love and holiness. How is failing to go to a Christian brother or sister when they are sinning unloving? How is it unholy?
One practical reason why we should go to our brother when they offend us is because they might not realize they have offended anyone. They may be blind to their own behavior, or to their habitual responses. Have you given your small group/fight club permission to confront these behaviors/responses in your own life?
For families: Do you practice this principle in your family? With your spouse and children? Why not have a family meeting and talk through how you will handle conflict with each other? If you are the offender you should go to the other person and ask for forgiveness. If you are the offended you should go to the other person and tell them that they hurt your feelings.
*Remember the family is a “Schoolhouse of love.” It is the first place we should practice the Matthew 18:15 principle.
3. Before you go.
Matthew 18 tells us that before we can go to our brother or sister about an offense we are to check our own humility (18:4) and holiness (18:8-9). Why are these two steps so important before you can confront another Christian?
4. Gaining your brother or sister
In the sermon we listed steps to “restoring your brother or sister”: 1) Expose heart sin (idolatry), 2) Move them from guilt to Godly grief to grace, 3) Look for stubbornness: “Fix me” or “Leave me alone,” 4) In all things use the Word of God.
Which of these steps is difficult for you? Where have you seen your group do these things in the past? Do you tend to be “Fix me” or “Leave me alone?” How has the Word of God in Matthew 18 brought your from guilt to grace?
Confronting your brother or sister must be done in gentleness (Gal. 6:1). Why is humility and gentleness so crucial when it comes to fighting for holiness in the church, or in your small group or family? Are you a gentle confronter? Pray that God will give you a spirit of gentleness.
Fighter Verse Questions for Groups and Families.
Fighter Verse: Matthew 18:15. 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.
1. Why is going to your “brother” ALONE so important in gaining back your brother or sister? Where have you seen this principle work in your own life?
2. Why is it so important that our motivation and desperation be to gain our brother back? What other motivations can get in the way of this? Think about the prodigal son story- what motivations prevented the older brother from wanting to gain back his brother?
For families: Teach your children the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11-32). Talk to them about how they should always look out for each other. Not just for their physical safety, but for their spiritual safety too. Start this when your kids are young.
As parents you will see over the years that siblings carry a lot of weight with each other; even more than mom and dad sometimes. Where they may reject what you say, they might listen to their sibling.