Go to Offenders

Where this command is found:

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

Matthew 18:15

Have you ever needed to repair something that was essential to your everyday life? Do you remember the day that it was fixed and how much joy and satisfaction it brought? You were probably very grateful to have it back in working order serving the purpose for which it was designed!
This sense of joy and satisfaction that we can experience from fixing things is a small foretaste of what we as believers experience when we help our offender recognize their offense. The reason for this is because God’s heart is one of reconciliation and restoration. God desires that all those who have not known Him would be saved and those who have gone astray be brought back into fellowship with Him!

In Matthew 18:15, we see God’s heart for reconciliation expressed through Jesus’ command Go to Offenders. The purpose for this command is not so that we can condemn those who have offended us, but rather to restore them by pointing them to Jesus. For a non-believer, an offender’s need is ultimately one of salvation. Whereas for a believer, their need is for their fellowship with God to be restored.

One of the reasons why this command is so significant is because Christ has fulfilled it perfectly. We were the offenders. Christ came to seek and save us while we were still His enemies. He not only made a way for us to be reconciled to God through shedding His blood for our sins, He also has given to us His Holy Spirit so that we can walk in oneness with God and those within the Body of Christ.

Just as Jesus has loved us so selflessly and desires that all mankind should be in a right relationship with God, we as believers are to have this same type of love for our offenders. But how is this possible? The only way for us to lovingly and selflessly go to our offenders is if we personally are walking in fellowship with God.

While it is our responsibility to go to our offenders, it is not our responsibility to make them change their minds. However if we as believers are living in humility and obedience to God’s Word setting a Christ-like example for others to follow, our offenders will be more prone to recognize their errors and repent rather than refuse the truth when we approach them. In other words, our attitudes and actions must emulate the love of God and His desire for restoration if we want our offenders to be turned to Jesus.

But how do we practically do this? Jesus said ‘if you keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love’ (John 15:10). It is as we treasure Jesus’ words (specifically His commandments) within our heart, the Holy Spirit will align our thoughts, attitudes and actions with His. We then become a channel of His love and forgiveness helping our offenders to both recognize their need for God and for believers to maintain oneness within the Body of Christ.

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Go to Offenders — Part 2

We often approach offenders with a motive of vindication — we go in anger or pride with a desire to expose them. But it’s critical that we approach straying brothers with the heart God has for them.


Go to Offenders — Part 3

What hinders us from going to offenders? Maybe it's harboring bitterness? or maybe it's going to others who are not part of the problem or solution?