Win Your Brother!
Christians are often the church’s biggest enemy. We can be our own enemy by showing a lack of love and/or a lack of unity. Jesus himself claims that unity and love are the two ingredients that would cause the world to believe in Him (John 13; John 17). If we don’t have these two things, a lack of growth spiritually and numerically is our own fault. Healthy things always grow.
It has been on my mind lately to talk about something we are all guilty of that is sure to be unloving and divisive. I want to briefly talk about gossip. Some struggle with this a lot more than others, but I suppose we are all guilty to some degree.
Some people claim that if something is true then it isn’t gossip. They say that gossip is only speaking of things that are not true. I would have to disagree. According to Proverbs 20:19, even revealing a true secret is gossip. We shouldn’t ever join in such a thing. The only type of speech that should exit our lips is speech of encouragement (Ephesians 4:29). Scripture says that gossip is untrustworthy, unloving, rude, divisive, and it hurts relationships. Gossip never really solves anything.
Matthew 18 tells us the correct way to handle situations that offend us in any way. If we do not handle the situation this way, we are rejecting truth and therefore sinning against God and our spiritual family. Jesus says in this passage to go to your brother (sister) in private. If you see or hear of a Christian doing something that could hurt them or others, ask them about it in private. We should always do this with an attitude of love and patience. If what we heard or saw turns out to be right and our brother is sorrowful, then it is our responsibility to forgive them and help them. The end of chapter 18 tells us about this truth. I dare say that if one in your physical family did you our themselves harm in some way that you wouldn’t take out an advertisement in the local news paper. You would go to them about it. How much more should we do this for our spiritual family? Do we want to still have a relationship with our brothers?
If the brother does not repent then take one or two people with you. Still speaking in love, ask the brother to seek a better way. A way that causes no harm to self or others. After all, as Jesus said, all of God’s commands hand on doing good to others and trusting in Him. If he still does not repent, then he does not have the heart of a Christian and must not be treated as a Christian. However, if he later repents, we always should forgive him.
Gossip, inappropriate judgment, and a lack of forgiveness are all just as wrong as the sin that we are accusing our brother of. We must always check our attitudes to make sure we have the right kind of hearts. Going to an elder or a friend instead of going to the accused person first is always the wrong thing to do. Do what’s right. Show him love. Provide an avenue of unity. Win your brother! – Jesse