Forgiveness Part 2
In Part 1 we looked at what the bible teaches about forgiveness in two dimensions. The vertical dimension is about our need for forgiveness from God, and the horizontal dimension about us seeking and/or giving forgiveness from and to other people.
1 Corinthians 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
Paul reminds us that especially when we are taking communion that we need to keep short accounts with the Lord and with our fellow believers. We need to put right anything in our lives that is displeasing to the Lord and seek His forgiveness as in 1 John 1:9 (see Part 1), and forgive other people or where possible ask forgiveness of other people.
How to deal with someone in the church who has sinned against you.
Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
This scripture gives you a path to follow when a brother/sister sins against you.
Please note 99% of offences are opportunities to grow. If it is serious, then check all the facts before going to see him/her.
v17 The purpose of going is to bring him into a place of repentance with the view of forgiving him and restoring unhindered fellowship. We must go alone in the first instance, to protect the person from potential scandal, that is what we would like if we were the offender! We have no right to blacken their reputation before we even have raised the matter.
The offended person should be humble and prepared to listen and discuss the matter and being hoping that reconciliation can be achieved. The offending person, should realise that we all have blind spots, and that the person coming to him is upset about something. They should listen and if convicted of sin , express sorrow and repentance.
If they feel that the accusation is unjust they should agree to pray about it and get back to the offended brother in due course.
v18 If the offender is unrepentant, then the offended person returns with two witnesses, this is an escalation, and should show the offender that he means business.
The two witnesses should be praying and reasoning from the scriptures and always appealing to both parties to walk in love.
v19 If reconciliation has still not occurred the offended brother has the right to take it to the Church . The church has the right to exclude this brother from fellowship.
At any stage if the brother repents he must be forgiven.
We ought to bear in mind that if we sow mercy then we shall reap mercy.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
We must guard against any root of bitterness springing up from unresolved issues.
Bitterness can destroy our walk with the Lord and disrupt the church fellowship..
Ask your church leaders (if appropriate) for prayer if you are struggling with the aftermath of dealing with someone who has sinned against you.