“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)
The tendency of not going to a brother privately when a misunderstanding, disagreement, or sin occurs, often leads to bitterness, jealousy, and slander. The end results sometime is horrifying, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:16 ESV). Therefore, the principle in Matthew 18:15-17 needs to be alive at all times.
Meanwhile, it is not enough just to go to the brother or the sister. Go to him or her, in His love. Love is the result of God’s divine life working within us, having drawn us out of death.“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:14-15) Love also covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8).
Ask also for His wisdom to listen, to answer, to communicate, and sympathise, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17 ESV). (Inversely, our fleshy “wisdom” from our natural man is often mixed, angry, unwilling to reason, have little mercy and bear death, partial, and hypocritical.)
Remember mercy. God has extended His mercy to you and why would you withhold it from flowing to others? “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:13 NLT).
Seek healing and reconciliation. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT)
And vice versa, if a brother comes to you because he thinks you have misunderstood, offended, confused, or sinned against him, humbly examine your heart and evaluate what you have actually done, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). Have the Lord create in you a pure heart (Psalm 51:10).
If the other continue to misjudge, hurt, or mock you, ask the Lord to help you live out His meekness just as it is written in Matthew 5:39, ” If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”. Most importantly, continue to love him, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21).