15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
This passage is all about reconciliation with those who have sinned against us. It can be an awkward process, but the healing of the relationship is the number one priority here. This process works when it is bathed in the love of God.
15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
The first step is obvious. Try to work things out one-on-one with the other person. This must be done in love, with a willingness to forgive. If the person repents of the sin, then there is healing.
16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
Continue to seek healing and reconciliation by involving others who are neutral. Love and humility must continue. The healing of that person's relationship with God and with you is what matters. Love that person the way God loves him.
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;
If the person remains unrepentant of his sin, tell the church. If a person continues in serious sin, the whole church may need to confront him. But is must continue to be done in love with the goal of repentance and reconciliation.
,,,and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
There is often confusion about this part of the passage. Jesus is not saying we should shun the unrepentant person, but rather we should love them the way we are supposed to love all lost souls.
How did Jesus relate to pagans and tax collectors?
By loving them, and seeking for their salvation
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Even after a person has refused to listen to you, to others, even to the whole church, we must continue to love them and prayerfully seek for their reconciliation in Christ.
27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
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