Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, May 09, 2008


“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24 NIV)

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Matthew 18:15 NIV)

There is something in common in these two paragraphs. There is estrangement between “you” and “your brother.” In the first instance it sounds as if it is your fault or at least your brother thinks so, because “your brother has something against you.” When you attempt to draw near to God, your memory of this becomes very sharp, and you find that you cannot draw near to God until you are reconciled to your brother. The initiative of being reconciled rests upon you.

In the second instance there is estrangement and it is your brother’s fault. He has sinned against you. The initiative of restoring your brother and being reconciled again rests upon you. In each case the responsibility is yours. However, in this instance there is specific direction on how to do this: “…go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”

In the course of a year, I see many people who come to me because their brother has sinned against them. The gist of my counsel is “go to the brother and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” The problem is that the teaching of Jesus has been violated already because the people had come to me instead of to the brother. Just yesterday I had a call at 1:00 p.m. from a graduated student. He needed to see me. We made an appointment for 5:30 p.m. When we got together at 5:30 he had been reconciled to his brother, and he did not need to see me.

If Christians would take this teaching seriously, they would be close to the Lord, would be very happy, and would not need most of the counsel they seek from others. Much of this “going to others” instead of speaking “alone with the brother” is an attempt to justify their own reason for not being reconciled. It seeks sympathy and endorsement. It causes people to choose up sides when, in reality, they should not know about the problem at all.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.186)

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