Listening to Your Brother
Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:20
“You need to listen to me, I’m your brother!” The plea came from a concerned older brother in my neighborhood and was directed to a younger sibling who was moving farther away from him than the older child was comfortable with. Clearly the older child was better able to judge what was best in the situation.
How many of us have resisted the wise counsel of a brother or sister? If you’ve had to face the consequences of resisting the good advice of someone more mature, you’re not alone.
One of the greatest resources we can have as believers in Jesus is a family—those who are spiritually related because of a common faith in Him. This family includes mature men and women who love God and each other. Like the little brother in my neighborhood, we sometimes need a word of caution or correction to get us back on track. This is particularly true when we offend someone or someone offends us. Doing what’s right can be difficult. Yet Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:15–20 show us what to do when offenses happen within our spiritual family.
Thankfully, our gracious heavenly Father places in our lives people who are prepared to help us honor Him and others. And when we listen, things go better in the family (v. 15).
Father, we praise You for placing us in Your spiritual family. Help us to learn and grow through the wise words and godly behaviour of mature believers.
The underlying theme of today’s text emphasizes that the church is not just a social organization. Instead it is a spiritual family. The very idea of calling someone “brother” in addressing possible offenses shows how real the idea of the family is. A teachable spirit evidenced by listening to those who are more mature is the starting point for growth in community. The book of Proverbs admonishes us: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20). Listening to more experienced believers and having a teachable attitude can do wonders in maintaining harmony within the body of Christ.
Is there someone you need to listen to so that you can grow spiritually?