Sunday, December 10, 2023

Who is the Greatest? (Part 6)

By Clifton Angel
    Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother (Matthew 18:15).
    “Moreover.” As we ponder the need for humility and lowliness in the church, approval and hospitality of the lowest among us, the reality of sinning and causing others to sin, and our relationships with one another in the church, it is needful also to consider how we resolve these occasions of sin against another.
    Jesus authorizes four modes of action Christians are to be concerned with when another Christian has sinned against him, the first of which is the content of this article. Friends, brothers, and sisters, I am concerned that the church today resorts to every mode of action other than what Jesus has established.
    First, Jesus is addressing sin: the transgression of His law (1 John 3:4), our separation from God (Isaiah 59:1–2), and the condemnation of our souls (Romans 6:23). God forbid that we should ever lessen in our minds the seriousness of sin, which led to our Savior’s crucifixion. Furthermore, He is addressing the sin of one against another. He’s not addressing public sin. He’s not addressing differences of opinions. He’s not addressing binding our scruples.
    Second, this sin being between one and another, the first mode of action commanded is to keep it as such: private. How often when someone has sinned against us do we, rather: (1) Go talk to the elders about it? (2) Go vent to our spouse or another best friend about it? (3) Run from the problem instead of addressing it? (4) Rally a team against the “perpetrator”? This is our brother or sister in Christ! Why are we resorting to methods not authorized by Christ? Is it because we do not care? Is it because we are afraid? Is it because Jesus’ method is not sensational enough? Is it because we’ve not actually humbled ourselves as children and been converted?
    The Pharisees followed their own standards of “right,” believing and teaching, as long as I do not murder my brother, I can hate him, be angry with him, mistreat him, ignore him, et. al. (cf. Matthew 5:21–26). Let’s not be like them.
    If we would actually heed Jesus’ words, many of these occasions would be resolved by the first mode of action, and not another soul in the world would know of the transgression and forgiveness. “If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

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