The scripture for today is Matthew 18:15-20.
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
18-20 “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
Verse 20 really stands out in these times of the pandemic! At times, we are unable to gather more than a few together. When we watch worship online, we know that the same message is being shared with others in our faith community.
This passage lays out a strategy for dealing with conflict between members of the church. Being able to work out conflicts that arise is the way to grow as a community. Not dealing with a conflict only leads to bitterness and resentment. This passage tells you to work out your differences, not through confrontation. If the two of you cannot settle it, then you are to bring one or two others to witness your discussion, not to take your side but to insure you both try to work it out.
This is such good advice, especially in this age when confrontations seem to be the preference. Shouting down someone or talking badly about them to others doesn’t resolve anything, yet that seems more the norm.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. I can’t think of any better way to deal with this pandemic. Whether they live on your street or far away, we are each other’s neighbors. Treating everyone as you would like to be treated (or better) is a simple way to make the world less hostile.
Dear Lord, open our hearts to better care for our neighbors especially during this time of global suffering. Guide our thoughts and words to treat everyone as we would want to be treated. Amen
Prayer Concern - open our hearts
Alternate verses - Psalm 119:33-40, Ezekiel 33:7-11 or Romans 13:8-14.