Most of us loathe the very idea of confronting a friend who's fallen morally.
No thank you. We'd rather suffer the consequences than get engaged in an awkward conversation with someone who's fallen into sin. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to turn with him to Matthew chapter 18. In this passage, we find the biblical process for properly dealing with another's sin. Over the next few programs, we'll gain a whole new appreciation for what the Bible says and doesn't say about personal intervention.
Chuck titled today's message, Caring Enough to Confront. In your worship folder, you will find an outline that will guide us through the morning in the message out of Matthew chapter 18. And if you will, you can leave it folded and put it at Romans chapter 12, where we will begin the message shortly. But first I want to read for you these few verses out of Matthew chapter 18. We're working our way through the gospel by Matthew, and we have come to a very practical few verses. And if you have a red letter edition of the Bible, you'll notice all of these verses are in red, which tells you that these are the words of Jesus. I say that only because when reading over them, one might think this was written by one of the apostles, or perhaps one who was a delegate of the apostles. But these are words directly from the mouth of Jesus recorded by Matthew, and I'm referring to verses 15 through 20 in Matthew chapter 18. They have to do with confronting someone who has wronged us, someone who has sinned against us.
I'm reading from the New Living Translation of this morning. If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you, and go back again so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church.
Then, if he or she won't accept the church's decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. I'll tell you the truth. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
I also tell you this. If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. What is true of all sections of Scripture where there can be a misinterpretation is certainly true of this one. Because churches have gone to extremes, this passage has been used as a basis for their actions, when in fact there was never justification for such. And even those who claim that whatever you want from God, if two or three of you agree on it, God's going to give it to you based on what we just read. All of that needs to be clarified. We'll do that. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled, Caring Enough to Confront. What do you do when someone ticks you off or rips you off? Let me complicate it. What do you do when some Christian ticks you off, rips you off? Don't look at me like that.
You look like cherubs right now, like who me? It would be interesting to know how many of you right now are bearing a grudge against someone because you have refused to follow the direction of the Scriptures in dealing with wrongdoing from another. You see, we take our cues from the world system all the way through life, and then we come to the cross, and we come to Christ, and we discover there's a whole new set of directions for us to follow. And the difficulty in following them is we have to unlearn so many of the things that we had, well, we had made habits out of before.
For example, holding grudges and blaming other people and seeing ourselves as victims rather than simply going, working it through, getting past it, building a bridge, and cultivating a continued relationship. That's what caused one wag to write this, to dwell above with saints we love. Oh, that'll be glory, but to live below with saints we know, well, that's another story.
It's true. When we're in heaven, we're all justified, glorified, petrified. Everything's done right and not petrified. We're all freed, and without us in nature, and life is beautiful from then on, but we're a long ways from there. Well, some of us are a little closer to there than others, but we're all distant from there right now. And so on this earth, we have to deal with the fact that there are others who wrong us, and it isn't fair.
And the tendency is to see ourselves as victims. I remember back in the 1960s, a folk singer named Anna Russell made a little folk song popular. It's got a little humorous verse to it, but back behind the scenes, when you get to the end, it hits with a punch. She sings, I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed to find out why I killed a cat and blacked my husband's eyes. He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find, and this is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind.
When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in a trunk. So it follows naturally that I'm always drunk. When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day. That's why I suffer now from kleptomaniac.
When I was three, I felt ambivalence toward my brothers. So it follows naturally I poison all my lovers. But now I'm happy, now that I've learned the lesson this is taught, that everything I do that's wrong is someone else's fault. Wrong. Everything I do that's wrong is my fault.
Now that's not politically correct, that's why I like it. And it's not the kind of information you'll get from the world system, because in the world system you're taught other people rip you off so the way you get back is to get even. Never let them off a hook. Never forget an offense.
And when their name comes up, remember the offense. And then we become converted to Christ and he shows us a whole new way. But we discover that the new way, hold on now, the new way is not necessarily the easy way.
Matter of fact, I've learned in life that the best way is usually the hardest way, at least initially. But before I get there, I want you to look at Romans chapter 12 beginning at verse, hold on, Romans 12 beginning at verse, and there it is, nine. Listen to these little staccato imperatives.
They're little brief commands. Twelve, nine. Don't just pretend to love others, really love them. You know that's the great counsel, but that's hard.
Let's keep reading. Hate what is wrong, hold tightly to what is good. By the way, that doesn't come naturally. You grow up loving what's wrong and hating what's good. When the old nature wins its way, that's the way you go.
Look at the next verse. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. What great counsel. Honoring each other. That includes honoring our children. That includes honoring people we could otherwise take advantage of.
Honoring people who see things differently than we see them. He goes on, never be lazy but work hard and serving and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient and trouble. Keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
He isn't through, the list goes on. Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them. Pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.
We're better at the latter than we are at the former, by the way. We weep a little more easily than we rejoice with those who rejoice, I've learned. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
And don't think you know it all. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Wow. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
One after another, after another, after another, after another, after another, after another, after another. You live like that? We're talking good night's sleep, night after night. We're talking bridge building relationships. We're talking being the kind of person that's magnetic. Others can't stay away from you. You'll be living a life that's marked by loving and learning from others because it's such a healthy life of accountability. You'll observe and you will affirm other people.
You'll learn from what they have done or what they have said and you'll be grateful and you'll encourage and you'll even counsel one another and you'll be grateful for what they tell you, the wisdom that comes from the lips of others. All these things first occur in the home, by the way, as we're growing up. Get this. We grow up and our parents are there to give us counsel to point out this is wrong, that's right. Don't do this.
Do that. And we grow up hearing it year after year, year after year. I remember being so impressed with our older son because from the earliest years, he had his own room in this particular home where we lived and his bed was made every day. I mean, we became a teenager. His bed was made every day.
I was so impressed with him. Then one day I opened his closet to get something and I saw the reason. There was a sleeping bag in his closet that he opened up on the bed every night and he slept in the sleeping bag and left his bed made and I said to him, Kurt, you sleep in a sleeping bag. He said, I know dad, making up that bed every day is dumb. I just lay out the sleeping bag and I said, kids can teach you so much.
I've suggested that to Cynthia but she doesn't like that idea. You learn as you're growing up in the home. Now you get old enough, you don't want your parents to tell you what you should and should not do and by then you should be responsible enough to do it on your own. You've built your own boundaries, ideally. You've learned what's right and what's wrong, ideally. And those areas that you've missed, a good friend picks up where they left off. A good friend will tell you the truth.
I hope you have some friends like that. In fact, right in the margin of your Bible, Proverbs 27, 6. Proverbs 27, 6. Faithful are the wounds, W-O-O-U-N-D-S, wounds of a friend. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
It's a causative stem in the Hebrew. It means faithful are the bruises caused by the wounding of one who loves you. If you don't have a friend who is free if you don't have a friend who is free to wound you, you don't have a good friend. Now that's not all they do, of course. Of course that's not all, but when it needs to be done they don't hesitate. They do it correctly, they do it privately, they do it lovingly, and sometimes with tears, but they do it because they're faithful to you as a friend.
Hold on. You grow a little older and you may meet your partner in life and you marry, so now you've got a built-in point of counsel. I heard that laugh. You've got a built-in husband, built-in wife. Part of that, what comes with that is the freedom to tell the truth, and a relationship that's what it should be is a truthful relationship. I'm not talking about constant confrontation. I'm talking about essential confrontation.
Who else is going to tell you? Well, yes, you could go to work and you may have a boss, a leader that points out things, so you have someone there telling you. All the way through life there are those that you that we confront. Now all of that is sort of built into a healthy point of accountability, which leads me to say this, an unaccountable life is not worth living because your life is running off the rails.
You don't even know it. You don't have enough brains in yourself, and I don't have enough brains in myself, to know when I'm getting too near the edge, so I need warnings from friends who love me and from a wife who cares for me, from individuals who see I'm going too close to the edge. This needs, you need to give attention to this because in healthy relationships where you're accountable, you welcome that. The ideal, let me add this before we get to Matthew 18, is a mentor. One of the reasons we love mentors is that they have the ability to point out those areas in our lives that need attention and they're blind spots to us.
We're not aware that we're doing this or saying this or that what we're doing or saying makes people uncomfortable. When I'm with an individual who has got those rough edges, I always know he or she has not been mentored. When I'm with one who knows those areas, I know they've been mentored. So faithful are the wounds of a mentor. Hopefully you can look back over your life and name two or three.
Even now, I hope you have one or two who still has the right to walk into your life, talk with you about things that are very personal and private, handle them sensitively. Now then, we come to Matthew chapter 18. I don't want to forget this, so I want to say it on the front end, though it's a little bit out of order. Carrying out much of this when it's done correctly is done with tears. This isn't easily done. It is done often with sadness.
You're sensitive about bringing this up, but you know it needs to be addressed and so you can sometime have to fight back the tears because you feel deeply about it. Now, let's see what Jesus teaches. Here we are in a confrontation situation. A person has wronged you.
Verse 15, if another believer sins against you, watch closely. You'll learn exactly what to do. Forget what you were told by the world system. Forget the habits you formed when you were in the military. Forget the way you grew up in the streets and you learned the hard way. Forget the bad habits of when you ran roughshod over people. Listen to what Jesus is teaching.
Be willing to follow his leader, leading. Someone sins against you. Go privately, privately. You don't do it in front of the Bible study group. You don't do it in front of the family. You don't do it with a group of even group Christians. You go privately, one on one. That's what that means.
Go privately and point out the offense. Meaning what? Meaning you specify what it is that hurt you. Because you want to make it right. You want there to be a bridge.
You want to have a relationship. And because that offense broke down part of that bridge, you want to build it back. So you're coming halfway in your bridge building process. Hopefully your listening friend will build his part or her part back toward you. Look at this. You point out the offense.
Watch. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. There you go.
It's a great goal. The ultimate goal is restoration and you've restored. There was a breakdown of communication. You no longer have a reason to hold a grudge. You no longer think less of the person. In fact, you remember with delight the the blending and the healing of the wound.
Okay. In fact, it says further, the other person listens and confesses you have won that person back. But there may not be an acknowledgement from the other side. You've had that happen.
So have I. What do we do then? Jesus tells us, if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you. Take one or two others with you and go back again so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Now, we're not teaming up on the person.
We're not trying to corner them. But having another two or three people with you verifies the reality of the wrong. Chances are good the person has done wrong to others as well in the same way.
So you've got someone there or two or three others, and it's based on Deuteronomy 19, 15, where you take others when you go back and deal with the situation. I like the way one man writes about it. We should immediately put our complaint into words. The worst thing we can do about a wrong is to brood about it. That is fatal.
It can poison the whole mind and life until we can think of nothing else but our sense of personal injury. Any such feeling should be brought out into the open-faced and stated, and often the very stating of it will show how trivial the whole thing is. If we have a difference with someone, there is only one way to settle it, and that is face to face.
Now, it may not be successful. Jesus, being a realist, goes further, and now you go with one or two others, and hopefully that person will hear the other two with you and will acknowledge that wrong has been done. If you're like me, I'm guessing God is bringing someone to your mind.
Perhaps it's a relationship in disrepair or someone you love who's lost their way. Well, please keep listening because we've devoted two more programs to this practical topic, Caring Enough to Confront. You're listening to the Bible teaching of Pastor Chuck Swindoll. He's teaching from Matthew chapter 18.
And to see what resources are available for today's topic, please visit us online at insightworld.org. You know, there's a common thread woven through the tapestry of Insight for Living's 42 years in ministry. No matter where life takes us, we know nothing brings more clarity than focusing on the promises of God recorded in His Word, even the tough issues such as the one Chuck is addressing right now. And when you partner financially with this ministry, you can be sure that your donations are deployed for this very purpose. We point people to the truth of the Bible, and God's Word never returns void.
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Or go online to Insight.org. Join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues to talk about Caring Enough to Confront, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Caring Enough to Confront, was copyrighted in 2017 and 2021. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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