- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Questions about Friends and Family Relationships
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 13:09
Some principles from this passage apply to resolving an interpersonal problem. However, because all Scripture is "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16), the application of this passage must be in harmony with the truth in all the Scriptures (Psa 119:160).
If this passage teaches us how to pursue the redress of wrongs against us, it stands alone in the New Testament. When a brother wrongs us, the Lord teaches us to convince him of his wrong (Luke 17:3, 4). If he repents, we are to forgive, even when his expressed repentance seems questionable. Apart from that, the New Testament teaches us to be kind, forbearing, forgiving, and concerned toward those who wrong us (e.g.: 1 Co 6:7). In fact, the remainder of Matthew 18 advocates unlimited forgiveness and shows how inconsistent it is for those whom God has forgiven to exact redress for wrongs others do to them.
In light of this, several limitations guard how these verses apply to resolving interpersonal disputes. First, the primary goal is gaining the brother. To use this passage to demand redress (v. 28) violates the clear statements of the Lord (vv. 22-35).
Maintaining these truths balances the application of this passage to interpersonal problems.Focus on the purpose: to gain your brother. Keep it private: "between thee and him alone." Many personal, family, and financial issues should never be repeated to the church. They will create factions among believers. If the matter does not affect the testimony of the assembly or clearly cross a moral boundary God has established, it is not an assembly issue. Perhaps the strongest limitation in applying this passage is that it presents a one-sided problem. Only one party has sinned. That is hardly ever (never?) the case in interpersonal problems; both have in some way contributed to the wrong. In the presence of the Light of the World, the Holy One to Whom nothing is hidden, he that is without sin in his relationship problems, let him cast the first stone at his erring brother.