If Your Brother Sins, Rebuke Him

Q. I enjoyed your articles on forgiveness.


I am particularly thankful for the section in your article in Forgiveness Part 2 about the Tragic Misunderstanding (of the meaning of repent). I have been misunderstanding that all along. Not sure if it’s been explained to me this way before and didn’t get it or I have heard the wrong thing.

Here’s the question I have. I am in a situation where I volunteer for a Christian organization. I understand about submission and have no problem with that. But sometimes I get the feeling that I am being “used.” How do I know if this is discernment as opposed to my fleshly feelings … those that don’t want to take orders, even from authority?

In your article you quote Jesus as saying, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

You then say, “The Greek word translated rebuke in this passage means to admonish or censure. We should advise fellow believers when we think the way they’ve treated us is contrary to God’s word. (see also Matt 18:15-17)”.

So, do I rebuke her? Do I bring these issues to her? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

A. I think the Scriptures are clear on our responsibility to confront a person who we feel has sinned against us. In the first place, the person might not even be aware of the offensive behavior, and in the second place we might have misunderstood their intent.

But even if neither of the above is true, how can we resolve issues between us and others if we don’t discuss them? I believe we’re supposed to assume positive intent on the other person’s part, but that we’re supposed to resolve behavioral problems through discussion and prayer. The love we show toward one another is meant to be our distinguishing characteristic as believers (John 13:35) but that doesn’t mean trying to ignore or “get over” problems with others. It means we discuss them in love and seek resolution and reconciliation.

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