Most of us are somewhat familiar with what Jesus said about addressing another brother or sister when he or she sins against us (Matthew 18:15-20), and we ought to give that a fresh look. But this week I would like us to consider our responsibility toward one another beyond simply the process of discipline outlined by Jesus. One of the hardest things for us to do as Christians is address the sin we may see in the life of another; at least, it is one of the hardest things for me to do! But love demands that we care enough to confront sin in one another.
Use the texts and questions given below to help you meditate on this hard but important matter of the Christian sojourn.
1. What has been your experience with being confronted about sin or confronting someone about his or her sin?
2. Let's begin with that familiar text that is far easier to quote that to practice, Matthew 18:15-17.
a. What specifically is the situation that Jesus is addressing in verse 15?
b. Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you..." What is sin and why is it important to think in terms of sin?
c. What is the process Jesus outlines here and what is the purpose of the process? Is it revenge, self-justification, self-gratification or something else?
d. What do you think it means to treat someone who has not repented of sin as "a Gentile and a tax collector"? (v. 17)
3. Let's back up for a moment and look at a few passages that provide some preventative prescriptions. Read Hebrews 3:12-14.
a. What is the danger addressed in this text? In other words, what does sin do to us?
b. What is the prescribed remedy?
c. How do you think you could apply this text to your walk with Jesus?
4. Turn over a few pages to Hebrews 10:24-25.
a. What does the Lord exhort us to do in this passage? What does He warn us not to do?
b. How might this "one another" practice help us address sin in our lives?
5. One more preventative prescription, James 5:16.
a. What does James tell us to do and how might that help us deal with sin in our lives?
b. Here's an extra credit thought question: What light does I John 1:5-10 shed on James 5:16?
6. Now let's take a look at how we might address sin in one another's lives. Read Galatians 6:1-2.
a. What do you think it means for someone to be "caught in any transgression"? Is this a slip or a habit? Is it actual sin or a personality issue?
b. What does it mean to be someone who is "spiritual"?
c. How are we told to restore a person caught in any transgression?
d. Put this all in personal practical terms. What does the Lord expect of you?
7. Look up Ephesians 4:15 and Philippians 2:3-4. How do these passages shape how we might address the sin we see in a brother or sister in Christ?
8. What does Matthew 7:1-5 add to your understanding about addressing someone who is caught in sin?
9. What did you learn about addressing sin in one another's lives? What do you think the Lord would have you do in light of this meditation?
Hope to see you on Sunday!
PS: If you have time, here are some sobering passages to ponder.
a. I Corinthians 5:1-13 (cf., 15:33)
b. II Thessalonians 3:6-15
c. I Timothy 1:19-20
d. Titus 3:10-11