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Lenten Devotional for March 27, 2024

““If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you,

you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two


MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if

he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax

collector. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound

in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they

may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where

two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.””

(Matthew 18:15–20, NASB95)

Matthew 18 is one of the most important texts on grace anywhere in the bible.

Grace is recognized as being at the heart of vv. 21-35, but the six verses just quoted

are every bit as much about grace. Grace does not equal mercy; it begins there but

it then seeks to encourage radical change in a community of accountability.

Discipline is found as much in a healthy congregation as in a healthy family. The

Church understands that deliverance from sin’s shackles is vital to the well-being

of every Christian. The Church is an instrument of that freedom.

When I counsel couples before marriage, I warn them that the secret to a

healthy marriage is not to avoid conflict at all cost. A healthy couple knows how to

argue well. What is true for couples is also true for our other relationships,

especially in the Church. So today I want to share some of the principles that I

teach in premarital counseling.

First, a Christian approaches conflict with confidentiality. Speak to the person

that you have an issue with rather than drawing others into the issue. Remember

the value of the other and do not allow them to be unnecessarily embarrassed. No

matter how righteous the anger, let love dictate both your actions and words. Once

the issue is widely shared, the relationship becomes much harder to heal.

Second, is the issue one of principle or preference? If it is truly principle, then

communicate the reason it is so important. If it is preference, seek to find

compromise that both find palatable. Too often, we insist on preference and allow

those issues to become power games.

But there are those times when real offense has been given—times where sin

needs to be confronted. Here, we must respond in love. Even as loving parents

must discipline their child, loving discipline is also necessary in the Church. This is

what Jesus is teaching us in these verses. We must always be ready to forgive, but

grace also necessitates restoration. Jesus calls us in such times to loving

confrontation because we love one another too much to leave our brother or sister

estranged from the Lord.


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