Lesson 18 - “When Your Brother Sins” - Matthew 18:1-20
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
1. Context: This passage usually seems to be thought of in terms of church discipline (and it does outline the procedure), but it also presents helpful tips about bringing offended parties back together (even where the offence is “normal” or relatively minor). For this study, let’s be sure to not overlook this second application.
2. ID: (1-4) According to verses 1-4, what is/are the distinctive(s) of greatness in the kingdom of heaven?
3. ID: (5-9) What point is being made with the hyperbole in these verses?
4. ID: (10-14) What is the main point being made in these verses? What is the connection between the story about the sheep and confronting a brother?
5. WS: (23-35) What is compassion/pity (splagchnizomai), and how did it fit into this parable that Jesus told? (Also see Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:32; Matthew 18:27; Matthew 20:34)
6. ID: What kind of tone, purpose, and perspective do verses 1-14 and verses 23-35 (esp. 27 & 35) set for verses 15-20?
7. ID: (15-20) What is the procedure set out for restoring a brother who sins against you?
8. ID: (15-20) What are some principles that can be deduced from these verses?
9. ID: (15-20) Which “spiritual discipline(s)” does the passage indicate should accompany restoration of a brother?
10. Food for thought: Read Matthew 18.15-20. What was in the section that you did not expect? What was not in the passage that you thought would have been included? Do these verses relate to verse 35? How?
The WALK: What should I do?
1. Is compassion/pity a normal part of your life? What have you done recently to demonstrate compassion/pity on someone (1 John 3:17-18)?
2. Have you ever followed this four step reconciliation process? What happened?
3. How important is forgiveness and reconciliation to you?
4. Can you think of someone that you should go and be reconciled with?
5. Take a few minutes to pray for each other to be at peace with others.
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Living Out Matthew 18
When Christians think about talking to someone else about a conflict, one of the first verses that comes to mind is Matthew 18:15: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you." If this verse is read in isolation, it seems to teach that we must always use direct confrontation to force others to admit they have sinned. If the verse is read in context, however, we see that Jesus had something much more flexible and beneficial in mind than simply standing toe to toe with others and describing their sins.
Just before this passage, we find Jesus' wonderful metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found (Matt. 18:12-14). Thus, Matthew 18:15 is introduced with a theme of restoration, not condemnation. Jesus repeats this theme just after telling us to "go and show him his fault" by adding, "If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." And then he hits the restoration theme a third time in verses 21-35, where he uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to remind us to be as merciful and forgiving to others as God is to us (Matt. 18:21-35).
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 144
Food for Thought
Jesus is clearly calling for something much more loving and redemptive than simply confronting others with a list of their wrongs. He wants us to remember and imitate his shepherd love for us--seeking after others, helping them turn from sin, and helping them be restored to God and those they have offended. Have you ever heard others in a conflict say, "We followed the Matthew 18 process"? Have you said it yourself? Read all of Matthew 18 and ask the Lord to give you the heart of a shepherd who seeks and gently restores the lost sheep.
A Commitment to Biblical Conflict Resolution
As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict.1 We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ.2 Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles: ... Click here to read the rest.