“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew [18:15]
Conflict is inevitable as humans live with each other; it’s how we deal with conflict that so often defines us. Conflict can make us run, gossip, fight, or weep. In the case of Andrew Jackson, the Seventh President of the United States, it caused him to fight in what historians estimate was a hundred (pistol) duels!
There are many possible responses to conflict, but which response is appropriate when conflict arises between believers in Christ? Jesus lays out a clear path in Matthew 18. When a brother or sister sins against you, you confront them personally. This is wise advice, but what Jesus says next in Matthew [18:15] points to the beautiful uniqueness of sacred fellowship that only believers experience. The goal of confrontation is not to prove oneself better, air grievances, or preserve honor—the goal of confrontation is to gain a brother.
In Christ, there is always hope of restoration. There is always hope of forgiveness, because Jesus forgave our debts and His love empowers us to forgive others. So often, sacred fellowship is broken because we don’t approach conflict with the goal of restoration. Through the remainder of this series in Philemon, seek God to lead you to biblical restoration in your broken relationships.
God, thank you for forgiving me. Guide and empower me to express the same grace to those who’ve wronged me. Reveal to me where I have wronged others, and humble me to ask for their forgiveness. Please bring restoration to my broken relationships. Thank you, God, for the persistent hope of restoration in sacred fellowship.