Jesus said that there is a 4-step process:
a) Go to him alone and confront him. Don't tell anyone else! Not disguised as a prayer request or in any other way. Jesus said, "go and tell him his fault between you and him alone."
b) If he wont listen, take with you one or two more. Don't slander him. Don't write him off. Try again, and this time with one or two trusted believers who know how to keep a confidence and intercede for a lost soul.
c) If he still wont listen, tell it to the church. Why should we tell it to the church? The body needs to know how they can intercede on behalf of one of their own to see healing and restoration. This isn't about shaming a member. It is about giving the whole body an opportunity to pray and intercede for a member who has fallen away. It is about love and grace!
d) If he stubbornly refuses to listen to the church, he must be a heathen and tax collector. This final step is a drastic measure that is taken in hope that by being cut off from the fellowship two things will happen. 1. The rebellious man in his sin will not infect and defile the body and 2. This separation will be a strong enough move to bring him to a place of broken repentance.
e) The body continues to intercede. Many times churches stop at the 4th step and never move on. But Jesus never gives up on looking for the lost sheep, so the body should not give up on interceding for the member who has fallen into sin!
5. Forgiveness is bottomless, grace is endless. We cannot neglect this final instruction by Jesus about conflict, but sadly we often do. A believer, or group of believers, fall into sin or initiate conflict in the body and the Matthew 18 principle is followed to resolve conflict, the offending member or members are removed from the body and those who are left are hurt and wounded because a part of the body has had to be cut off.
And many times that pain is felt over and over if the offending party continues in their sin, fights back, or if the body refuses to forgive and makes an example or subject of gossip of the fallen brother.
The only way to move past that pain is continue reading to the end of the chapter.
Peter approaches Jesus with a question that most—if not all—have asked at one time or another. "But what if this person just keeps offending me over and over and over? At what point am I no longer obligated to forgive?"
Jesus' answer is simple: "You're always obligated to forgive ... from the heart."
He goes on to share a sobering story about the servant who had been forgiven an amount that he would never be able to repay in a whole lifetime, but in turn refused to forgive someone else a paltry sum of money.
The master who had forgiven him said these important words that Jesus says to us today: "Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant [fellow man], just as I had pity on you?"
Dear saints, we must, must, must forgive fully.
We must, must, must forgive every time.
We must allow the grace of Christ to come and so fill our hearts with love for those in the body who have offended us that the pain, judgment, negativity and condemnation toward them are removed ... and in place of that is a deep, deep supernatural love and compassion!
If we have not come to this place, we have not yet forgiven.
And if we fail to complete step 5, we are in violation of step 1.
We are walking in pride. Our pride will lead us to violate step 2. We will become an offense to the body! Our pride will lead us to fall ...
... and the judgment with which we judged when we failed to forgive fully and from the heart will be turned against us.
This is why full and complete forgiveness is so important to the body!
Rosilind Jukic, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her Bosnian hero. Together they live in the country with their two active boys where she enjoys fruity candles, good coffee and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. Her passion for writing led her to author her best-selling book The Missional Handbook. At A Little R & R she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. You can also find her at Missional Call, where she shares her passion for local and global missions. She can also be found at on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest and Google +.
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