FIVE LAWS FOR RESOLVING OFFENSES
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus spelled out the clearest call in all of Scripture for us to walk in reconciliation: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” When it’s time to clear up a conflict, following these rules will keep us from falling:
1. The Law of Sensitivity.
Jesus began by saying, “If your brother sins against you.” This is a call to assess if we’ve truly been sinned against, or are just being oversensitive. Sin means someone has violated Scripture and offended God. Just because we don’t approve of someone’s actions doesn’t mean they’ve actually sinned. Let’s let the Word set our sensitivity levels to the actions of others (Psalms 119:165).
2. The Law of Honesty.
Jesus said “Go and tell him his fault” because we need to be honest with ourselves and those who have offended us. It is both dishonest and dangerous to pretend that we are not offended. If a valid issue has come up, we should approach our offender (Proverbs 27:5). Ignoring them only creates a hot zone of pent up emotions where viral bitterness and an epidemic of unforgiveness can break out.
3. The Law of Privacy.
Jesus said the problem is to be solved “between you and him alone.” We need to keep others out of it. Gossip and tale bearing may masquerade as something more refined like “sharing” or a prayer request, but they’re both still sinful (2 Cor. 12:20). Violating the law of privacy may be a greater sin than the original offense because it multiplies the problem throughout the Body and opens the door to division.
4. The Law of Responsibility.
The words “If he hears you”raise the issue of our responsibility to listen when we’re confronted. Everyone’s healing depends on it. Ideally, forgiveness will extended between the parties and the relationship will be saved. If your words are ignored, take it to God in prayer and try another approach. But don’t forget: we are responsible to be active listeners in our relationships (Matt. 5:23-25).
5. The Law of Victory.
Jesus defined a successful resolution with the words, “…You have gained your brother.” The goal of honest confrontation is to regain the relationship, not further damage it. Aim for win-win outcomes, where nobody walks away in shame or rejection. Victory is not putting someone in their place, it’s winning them back as a brother by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).