"If he listens to you"- Matthew 18:15-20


Matthew 18:15-20


Core Value: Kindness/Goodness – I choose to do the right things in my relationships with others.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

The English words "kindness" or "goodness" are found in 75 verses of the NIV; the words "be kind" or "do good" appear in another 33 verses. In the New Testament "love," "kindness," and "doing good" are closely related. Luke 6:35 is an especially helpful passage in this regard. In Luke 6:17-49, Jesus said, "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." In the New Testament as in the Old, kindness entails "doing something good for" someone rather than "doing something evil". It includes being "compassionate" and "forgiving", but excludes "quarreling", whereas "goodness" refers to a character quality.

Scripture: Matthew 18:15-20  15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence 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, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The Message of this Passage:  While the disciples were arguing and inviting sin, Jesus continues His reply and switches the focus from warning about sin to dealing with it. After calling us to deal with personal sin in a decisive and firm way, He turns our attention to others. How does our Lord call us to deal with the sin in others? With truthfulness and love (Eph. 4:15)! The ideal way to develop and maintain growing and healthy relationships is the understanding and application of love-not what we think love is; rather, what God says love is! When we resist or refuse to deal with others who have wronged us, by going to that person privately face to face and pointing out their fault then that is on us. Then we too are guilty of not loving as Christ loves.  We are not trying to resolve differences and win them back and we escalate the problem and dysfunction. We destroy our relationships and the opportunities for Him to use us. When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we facilitate the character the Church is supposed to emulate; then, we have the potential to be used by God to win someone back. It is in the atmosphere of Christian love, prayer and fellowship that personal relationships can be made right. If the person won't even listen to the church, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector. William Barclay suggests that what Jesus was really saying was that when you have done all this, when you have given the person every chance, and when he remains stubborn and obstinate, and you may think that he is no better than a tax collector or a godless Gentile, you may be right. However, Jesus found that the tax collectors and Gentiles were not hopeless, that they too had a heart to be touched. Ex. Matthew and Zacchaeus who became Jesus' best friends. Even if the stubborn sinner is like a tax-collector or a Gentile, you may still win him, like Jesus did. This is in fact not a command to abandon or shun the person or to say that some people are hopeless. It is a challenge to win the person with the love which can touch even the hardest heart. No one is hopeless.

For Discussion:

  • What are some reasons why Christians are afraid to go and tell other Christians how they have been hurt by them? Or how the behavior they are doing is a sin against God.

  • What is our responsibility to go and tell?

  • What are some reasons why you should first go alone to someone to confront him about his sin?

  • According to verse 15, what is the purpose of going and telling “your brother” his sin?

  • Do the witnesses have the authority to give advice or are they just there to merely listen?

  • What does it mean when it says in Matthew 18:16 “that every charge may be established?”

  • Does this require rendering judgment?

  • What do we learn about prayer from verses 18-19?

  • What does it mean to bind and loose? The authority that was given to Peter to bind and loose (to define what is permitted and what is forbidden) in Matthew 16:18-19 is now given to the church (not another individual). 

Grant SchweisthalMatthew