If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. Matthew 18:15
In 2010, a tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing more than four hundred people. But the deaths could have been prevented or minimized had the tsunami warning system been working properly. The tsunami detection networks (buoys) had become detached and drifted away.
Jesus said His disciples had a responsibility to warn fellow disciples of things that could harm them spiritually—including unrepentant sin. He outlined a process in which a believer who’s been sinned against by another can humbly, privately, and prayerfully “point out” the sin to the offending believer (Matthew 18:15). If the person repents, then the conflict can be resolved and relationship restored. If the believer refuses to repent, then “one or two others” can help resolve the conflict (v. 16). If the sinning person still doesn’t repent, then the issue is to be brought before “the church” (v. 17). If the offender still won’t repent, the individual is to be removed from assembly fellowship, but he or she can certainly still be prayed for and shown Christ’s love.
As believers in Jesus, let’s pray for the wisdom and courage we need to care enough to lovingly warn one another of the dangers of unrepentant sin and of the joys of restoration to our heavenly Father and other believers. Jesus will be “there . . . with [us]” as we do (v. 20).
How can you humbly and lovingly confront someone regarding a sin issue? What are the dangers of unrepentant sin?
Dear God, help me to love others enough to lovingly warn them when I see them falling into sin.
Matthew 18:15–20 contains three ideas that are sometimes treated individually with no relationship to each other. However, the context of verses 15–17 determines the interpretation of verses 18–20.
Verses 15–17 discuss the process of forgiveness and restoration for a believer in Jesus who sins. They outline the responsibility that fellow believers have to one another to confront sin when it’s identified and to restore when it’s confessed. In this context, the statements about binding on earth and heaven (suggesting that the forgiveness and restoration offered by the church is done in the authority of God) and receiving what two agree on (a protection against the potential abuse of singular authority) are directly related to the forgiveness and restoration of a believer in Jesus.