Matthew 18:15-22

Matthew 18:15-22

God wants us to be gentle with our brothers, even though they sin against us... First, we are to have a desire to win back our brother's love and fellowship. That is the motive in which we're going.This is exactly how, most of the time, we deal with our brother when our brother sins against us. We want to go and get in their face and make sure they know how deeply they’ve hurt us, how badly they’ve hurt us, how horribly they’ve messed up, and we run them through the mud, and we step on their toes, and we step on their back, and we make sure when we’re done letting them know that they’ve sinned against us, that they’ll never sin against anybody ever again! We think…

Yes, [Jesus] wants us to go to our brother if our brother sinned against us, to show him his fault, “Just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” So what is it that we are hoping to accomplish when our brother sins against us when we go to them? Is it to make them feel like the piece of slime and filth that they are, because they sinned against me? Or is it actually t win them over? See, this is where we miss in our thinking so often. We get hurt, and because we get hurt, we want everybody around us to hurt, too. We want to take it out on everybody and especially the person that hurt us. But see Jesus, in dealing now with His disciples, is letting them know that it is not about us being hurt, but it is about winning over our brother once again. Bringing him back… It’s not about exacting our revenge, that we like to do, but it’s about bringing him back…

And there’s several things in this statement that should stick out to us. First, we’re going to our brother to show him — not scream at him — the fault… And just between the two of you. God wants us to be sensitive in our approach to our brothers, even though they sin against us. He wants us to be gentle with our brothers, even though they sin against us… First, we are to have a desire to win our brother’s love and fellowship back. That is the motive in which we’re going… Go to them, bring your proof to them, show them, and do this with the intent of winning your brother. Do you ever win anybody by calling him a jerk, an idiot, a slime ball? So therefore, we have to leave the name calling behind, don’t we? We have to leave the abusive anger behind…

We have opportunity to win our brother back. In everything that we are studying in these verses, have to do with loving rather than hating, have to do with bringing back rather than chasing away, have to do with having fellowship rather than breaking fellowship, but yet we don’t hardly ever read this chapter in that way…

So what is it we’re asking for? What is it we’re agreeing about? Dealing with one another. Winning our brother or our sister back. Building the church, strengthening the church, by going to the Father by twos and threes and asking for the salvation or the return of a brother that has wandered off. That’s what it’s talking about. But once again, we cut that little verse out and we put it in our own little book so that we can name it and claim it. Pray for whatever we want, and we take it out of the context of what Jesus has just been teaching. I don’t see any houses mentioned here or any cars mentioned here, any cattle mentioned here, any sheep mentioned here — other than the sheep that wandered off that He went after to bring back. But I do see Him teaching about loving and forgiving. So then, if we’re going to use this verse correctly, we leave it in context, and we must then conclude that we are praying about, asking for, the redemption of our brother or our sister. It’s amazing when you leave things in context, the clarity you can get…

[Peter says,] “You want me to forgive. Sure, I’m happy to forgive, but how many times? I’m only human, Lord, so is seven times good enough?…” And here Jesus is now saying basically, more than you will be able can keep track of or count. When was the last time you kept count of how many times a brother sinned against you? Like I said, after three or four, he’s out of here, so you’ve stopped counting. Try it sometime. Keep your brother around and let him step on your toes twelve, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five. That toe is getting pretty raw by now. Now imagine seventy times seven. Imagine forgiving your brother more than you could ever possibly count or imagine or remember, but just loving your brother so much that you desire to see him walking right with you and God that you’re willing to forgive him, and you’re willing to go out of your way to do what it takes to forgive him… Who has the time in the day to keep count of every single time someone sins against you? That’s the whole point. You don’t have the time in the day, so don’t keep count. Forgive! And forgive again, and love again, and try to win your brother back again, and when he wanders off you go after him again. I don’t care how many times it takes. You do it until you bring your brother back, or he chooses to live as the pagan and the tax collector, knowing that he is outside of the fellowship with those who would love to be with him, with those who want to fellowship and love him. It’s not we who chase him away. It is they who choose to walk away. But so often it can be resolved by simply going to your brother in the first place.

Pastor Dave Elkins