Thought for Today
"HAVING OUGHT AGAINST YOU", PART THREE
"If your brother trespasses against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have
[re]gained your brother."
- Jesus, in Mt. 18:15
to yourselves. If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him.
And if he repent, forgive him."
- Jesus, in Lk. 17:3
The past two days, we considered the Lord's commandment to go to a brother if we learn that we have wronged him and to make it right. Today, we hear him commanding us to go to a brother if he has wronged us, and to insist that he make it right.
Even under Moses' Law, God's children were commanded to speak up when they saw a brother or sister start to go astray. "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not let sin come upon him" (Lev. 19:17. KJV). This verse reveals a definition of hatred that we might not otherwise be aware of; to wit, hatred of our brothers and sisters is shown when we know they have sinned, but we do not rebuke them. According to this verse, to fail to warn wayward brothers or sisters is to hate them. To silently watch sin take a fellow believer away from Jesus is itself sin.
The verse that follows that one contains the second greatest commandment God ever gave to His Old Testament people: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." With this kind of love, we will not allow sin to ruin either our lives or our brother's. As the Lord Jesus taught, "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Mt. 7:12 NIV).
The commandments of the Lord, when obeyed, prevent bitterness from growing among the family of God to the point that it ruins fellowship. When Jesus commanded his followers who had sinned against a brother to go to that brother and repent, he was saying, "Love one another." And when he commanded those who have been sinned against to go to the brother who had done wrong, he was also saying "Love one another." Our fellowship in Christ is a most precious gift from God, and if we are wise, we will do everything in our power to protect and preserve that fellowship. That includes dealing quickly with sin if it occurs, whether it is a wrong we have done to another or whether we have had a wrong done to us. Otherwise, we give Satan a place to work his divisive will among us.
Let love work. Hold on to the harmony we have in Christ with all your strength. Don't be afraid to reprove a brother who has done evil. By doing that, you may possibly learn that he had a reason for his deed that you had not considered; or, he may learn from you that he committed a transgression of which he was unaware. Either way, by your sincerity, you will close a door through which strife can enter, and you will have done your part to obey Jesus' command to "love your neighbor as yourself."