Dusting off Matthew 15:18 and Doing the Hard Thing

by - November 28, 2011

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (Matthew 18:15)

Does anybody really do this?

I should have seen it coming a mile away. God, early Saturday morning, speaks into my heart as I breathe in the oxygen that my corner Christmas tree expels. God says softly, "Let this be a season of quiet rest." Even under normal circumstances, which fly at me with break-neck speed, this will be a challenge. Surely I should have seen this for the set-up it was -- it's classic. But I am obtuse. Less than one hour after that sweet time alone with God and our new Christmas tree, I learn that a brother has sinned against me.

The rest of my day was anything but quiet rest.

I was angry. I felt violated. I needed a sounding board, but my husband had just flown out of town. I reached out online for wisdom from others, I wrestled and replayed the offense in my head. I fussed and stewed turmoil right into my quiet peace. And that quickly, I was disobedient.

I pound out a sharp email, but don't hit send. My gaze keeps returning to the beautiful still tree that breathes in my living room. It mocks me. I stop, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Breathe, I tell myself. The roiling storm slows to a simmer.  

I confide to a friend that I hate confrontation. I realize as the day progresses that my tension is actually because I'm sensing that God is prompting me to confront, but graciously, and I am resistant.

Then there is confirmation in my inbox and in my husband's tired voice over the phone when he says the word instruction among a flurry of others. It's the only word I remember after we hang up late. Angst is tiring, so I sleep well.

On Sunday, I draft another email, softer this time, and let it simmer, too, right through morning worship.

Our youth pastor preaches a sermon about the fear of the Lord. He takes us to Jesus' letter to Pergamum. Jesus is concerned about how this church tolerates false teachings that lead to immoral deeds. Jesus warns in 2:16, "Repent; or else I am coming to you quickly and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth."

Jermaine probes to the heart of my matter, "Why would we tolerate sin in the church? Why shrink back when righteousness has been compromised? If we do not confront the sin among us, Jesus warns that he will come and fight himself with his deadly double-edged sword. Better for us to confront. Do we hesitate because we fear man rather than God?"

I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him. (Luke 12:5-6)

I still hate confrontation, and I don't yet feel peace in my circumstances, but I finally know what I must do: the hard thing for righteousness' sake. I may have needed three confirmations because I am, after all, obtuse, but I'm glad God keeps speaking his will to me until my heart is quiet again and still.

Pray for me today while I dust off Matthew 15:18 and do the hard thing?

I'm writing in community with Michelle this week.

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  1. I will be praying for you...Help my sister do this hard thing the way that would please You.

  2. Thank you for your Godly example...praying.

  3. I appreciate your post. It's a good reminder that God lets us know how He wants us to handle things. We just have to be obedient--like you were! Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Praying for the right words for you. I know they'll come:

    "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." -- Luke 12:12

  5. Thanks for this reminder. It is amazing how much we can learn from scripture.

  6. You go girl ...literally. : ) The hard things yield the "peaceable fruit of righteousness". I am praying for you.

  7. I'm late getting here Dawn, but adding my prayers for whatever stage you're in, still anticipating, confronting, or all done and looking back at how it went. I know so well the discomfort and the angst--it IS hard to do this thing that is done out of love and obedience, but you don't go alone!

  8. I hope it went well, Dawn. I've been praying for you.

  9. Dawn- this post is powerful and hits a nerve! Praying for you as you walk this path.

  10. "Does anybody really do this?" That's a question I asked myself. I was teaching a women's class of veteran Christians well versed in scripture and active in local church work - a lesson on suffering for doing the right thing. I thought the Matthew 18:15 thing would be a good example where some might have suffered in that way (because the scripture passage doesn't guarantee a sweet response from the confronted person). So I asked if anyone had carried this out. No one, not one, in their lifetimes of being Christians! The class was small, but still... I was a little stunned. Surely in all that time some wrongdoing must have needed their confronting.
    Why are we so reluctant to obey God in this? I know the prospect has set me literally trembling, all day! Do we fear man more than God? I've asked myself that, too.
    I am praising Him for your courageous obedience, and praying that He blesses you mightily, whatever the offender's response.


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