September 5

Matthew 18:15-17

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” vs. 15

By the time Matthew wrote his gospel the community of believers was pretty well established in the larger cities of the Roman Empire. Congregations weren’t large and there were no church buildings as we know them. Rather, believers would meet in homes, ones that were large enough to accommodate a group of a few dozen people at most. Within those communities it was apparent from the beginning that there needed to be a way to handle disputes between members. As Matthew writes he remembers words from Jesus that could be helpful, and in keeping with his legal background, summarizes them in a series of easily remembered steps. His words have become the gold standard for reconciliation work ever since, and nearly every congregation, in its constitution, makes reference to Matthew 18 as the way to handle difficult situations among members. There’s great wisdom in what he writes and the first recommended step is crucial for the spiritual health of any group of believers. Put simply, Jesus is saying, “Never, ever triangulate in your relationships!” So often when we’re hurt or offended by someone our first impulse is to tell a third or fourth party, and that never does any good. Direct communication is always our best choice, and of course the key to healing in that conversation is listening! It isn’t rocket science, but it really does work!

Thought for the Day: What happens when we triangulate?

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