Suggested further reading: Philippians 3:17 - 4:3
How admirable the rules laid down by our Lord are for the
healing of differences among brethren! If we have unhappily received
any injury from a fellow member of Christ's church the first step to
be taken is to visit him alone and tell him his fault. He may have
injured us unintentionally, as Abimelech did Abraham (Gen.
21:26). His conduct Mayadmit of explanation, like that of the tribes
of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh when they built an altar as they
returned to their own land (Josh. 22:24). At any rate, this
friendly, faithful, straightforward way of dealing is the most likely course
to win a brother if he is to be won (Prov. 25:15). Who can tell but
he Mayadmit his fault and make reparation?
If, however, this course of proceedings fails to produce any
good effect a second step is to be taken. We are to take one or two with
us and tell our brother his fault in their presence and hearing. Who
can tell but his conscience May be stricken when he finds his
misconduct made known and he May be ashamed and repent? If not, we shall
at all events have the testimony of witnesses that we did all we could
to bring our brother to a right mind and that he deliberately
refused, when appealed to, to make amends.
Finally, if this second course of proceeding proves useless
we are to refer the whole matter to the Christian congregation of
which we are part. Who can tell but the heart May be moved by fear
of public exposure if unmoved by private remonstrances? If not,
there remains but one view to take of the brother's case we must
sorrowfully regard him as one who has shaken off all Christian
principles and will be guided by no higher motives than a heathen
What a knowledge is shown here of human nature! Nothing
does so much harm to the cause of religion as the quarrels of
Christians. No stone should be left unturned, no trouble spared, to prevent
their being dragged before the public.
For meditation: If we are not willing to follow through the
procedure set out by our Lord, our grievances cannot be
important enough to share with anyone else. Seek reconciliation or be
silent. Never gossip or slander.