“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.” (Matthew 18:15)
In teaching us to pray, Jesus added the phrase “as we forgive those who sin against us” because He knows that at any point in time, we are always going to have people who have sinned against us. First, let us consider those factors that often cause quarrel among people.
- Pride: The natural tendency to refuse to accept that I am wrong.
- Anger: The “dis-ease” that prevents me from making the best possible rational decisions.
- Survival Instinct: Love for material things which I believe would sustain my life.
- Ingratitude: The feeling that what has been taken from me is of more value than what I have.
- Revenge: The belief that I can only be happy if I transfer my pain to others.
The moment we master these underlining tendencies, we discover that we would easily avoid a lot of quarrels.
Now, let’s consider the step by step procedure Jesus recommends:
Step 1: Go to the person who has hurt you and discuss ONE on ONE with him or her. (Matthew 18:15). Surprisingly, this first step is often the most difficult to do. The truth is that if only we follow this first step of Jesus, we would have quenched the fire before it even begins. (Cf. Matthew 5:23).
Step 2: If your brother refuses to be reconciled, that is when you may invite one or two persons and if these persons are unable to intervene, then
Step 3: Invite the church. By rejecting the church, the person could then be treated as an unbeliever. This means he would need to be evangelized and catechized all over again.
Step 4: Jesus then goes on to talk about prayer which I would call the ultimate move at settling any dispute. Pray about it. When last did you pray for those who have offended you? And if you ever did, what was the content of your prayer?
In conclusion, as St. Paul would say, is it not a shame that a fellow Christian “brother goes to the law against another brother, and [the case is brought] before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong?” (1 Corinthians 6:6-7).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to act right and forgive when someone sins against me. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22, Psalm 113 & Matthew 18:15-20).