Morning Reading for July 19

Matthew 18:15-20
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 or publican.

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.

These readings (ISBN: 0 85234 420 1) are copyrighted and made available with permission by
Evangelical Press; 12 Wooler St., Darlington, Co, Durham, England, DL1 1RQ