If you have unresolved feelings about a past or present relationship, what feelings surface when you think about that person? In our scripture today, Jesus gives precise instruction on how to deal with forgiveness and reconciliation.
What are the steps suggested by Jesus in verses 15-17 regarding how to correct a brother or sister in Christ? Think how it feels to walk through the process as the one sinned against. Then, think of how it would be if you were the offender. How would these steps help resolve hurt feelings and conflicts within the church?
Jesus seems to give responsibility for resolving conflict to the “offended” person, rather than the “offender.” Think about why this would make sense. What attitude, or spirit, do you need to have when confronting the offender?
In verse 16, how do we see that taking two to three witnesses enhances the process of conflict resolution? What is, hopefully, accomplished by the extreme measures found in verse 17? What authority does Jesus give the church in resolving these situations? (See verses 18-20.)
In situations which must be resolved within the body of Christ, what needs to happen if the offender never admits wrongdoing? How does God view such a person? How does following Jesus’ instructions in this passage affect the church in positive ways? What happens when churches fail to follow the process?
In connection with the Matthew 18 passage, also look at 1 Corinthians 4:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 in order to better understand why it is so important to restore right relationships and confess our wrongdoing in this life.
This concludes this week’s study. Please contact me with any questions…or comment below.
— Pastor John