"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Monday, October 26, 2009


I want to go back and hit the forgiveness question some more to explain what I mean and give a specific example so you can see where I am heading. But because that example will bring Matthew 18 in, we'll bring that part up first.

In Matthew 18 we see the procedure we should use when (we think) someone has sinned against us.

15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. "

First step-GO to the person individually. Talk to them, let them know how what they are doing is sinful or against your rules or whatever your grievance is.
If you have made it clear why you are coming to them and they will not listen...

Second step- Get a witness or two and GO WITH them to your brother in Christ. What is the key word? WITH. This does not mean that Luke says to Andrew-"talk to Bartholomew, he won't listen to anything I say". The key is WITH so that Batholomew knows that it is Luke that send Andrew to talk about this serious issue. Whose responsibility is it to be sure Andrew does this? Obviously not Bart's, but Luke's. It is Luke's responsibility to make sure it happens correctly as HE is the one who initiated it.

If after an official discussion together andBart still won't listen, then Luke and Andrew...

3rd step- Tell it to the church. Here is a question-who is the church? If it is the common place of worship/fellowship/teaching, what if you don't live in the same area? Who is the church then? The larger sense of a body of believers?
How do you go about this? If Luke meets and talks to Frank who goes to church with Bart, is that good enough? What is Luke's responsibility? Here it doesn't say that Luke necessarily goes WITH the church, but does Luke have any responsibility to be sure Frank does anything? What is Frank doesn't have authority in the church? What if Frank never talks to Bart, let alone anyone else at church? Whose liable then?
When you go tell the church, WHO are you suppose to tell?? Is there still that principle where the church should say, "hey Bart, we ALONG WITH Luke want to talk to you...". The Church still has to know it is being a part of the Matthew 18 proceedings, otherwise Frank is just another witness like in step 2. And again, Luke can not delegate his role out. He can not say I followed Matthew 18 if he is not a part of every step and knows what and when and IF things were discussed, can he? Isn't it still Luke's job to be a part of the process to make sure it happens correctly, let alone happens at all?

And what about Bart? What is his role? First off, he needs to know and understand that Luke is coming at him in this way/that this procedure is taking place. It would be obvious to him if it was being done correctly. So if Bart doesn't know what is going on, something is wrong with the approach. Bart needs to be a part of the discussions if he is to have a chance to even accept the correction and repent. Does it have to be formal or in writing? Not always. In the business world everything is always documented, and when it involves discipline in the workforce, I would say 99.9% of the time there is a verbal warning, then 1 to 2 written warnings that must be signed by both parties so legally the business is covered. Often, we think because we are Christians we don't need to do it that way. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we just need to love and trust each other...sounds great, but we are human also! Perspectives, words/emails, who is doing what...without documentation hurts abound.

If Luke goes through all three steps, and Bart knows about all three steps and he refuses to repent, then we are to let him be as a heathen. The point of this post is not so much about the end result of the proceedings, but the process, so I am going to leave that part for now.

What is your responsibility when you know that no repentance will happen based on what you do? We are at step 2 on a situation. We know that proceeding with step 3 won't change anything this side of the heaven. Are we still required to go on? What is the end goal of this procedure? We've been hurt and stolen from-we called it out, but nothing will erase that hurt. Sure we seek justice, but is that the right reason? Even if not the "right reason", is it all wrong? If Matthew 18 is to restore a brother into a right relationship with God, what do you do when the other person doesn't think they have done anything wrong or worse yet, they just don't care? You know they are not going to accept the correction. Who are you seeking to restore the relationship with? You and them? May never happen. Them and God? It would seem if that is the end goal, you MUST continue on to the end.

How accountable are we to and for our brothers and sisters in Christ? If we know "what's right is right..." but we don't act on it, what good is what's right? Doesn't the song say if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything?
How do we know our responsibilities in each situation of life? Where's the checkoff list??!! If we don't make the decision, but we know it is wrong and go along with it anyway, are we held accountable? Or are our leaders just in for an "extra dose"? We know from Scripture that pastors and other church leaders will be held to a higher standard, but who constitutes the leader? Only the president? What about the VPs, the department heads...

I guess I am running in circles now and really spreading this out. But what are your thoughts? Have you were been involved on either side of Matthew 18, and how did that play out for you?

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