"If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17
We all sin. We all fall short many times in our lives. No one is perfect, except for Jesus. We all strive to do what is right; as Christ followers, we strive to live in His righteousness. But again, we will not always make the right choice; we will sometimes fall and fall hard. We will hurt people, people we know and people we don't know. When we sin against a brother or sister, there is a right way to make things right. When we are hurt by someone, there is a right way to make it known and a right way to deal with the hurt. The Bible tells us that we should start privately, between only the brother or sister who is involved. Prayer should always be a priority. Forgiveness and reconciliation should always be practiced. And glorifying God should always be the goal. If private forgiveness and reconciliation isn't working, then one or two other Christ followers should be asked to help...still privately. The same priorities and practices and goals should remain. And if that doesn't work, then the church as a whole should listen and help the two parties involved. It is still a private nature, and the goal should still be to end in forgiveness and reconciliation. That said, we all know that it doesn't always work out. Sometimes we just won't give forgiveness or even receive it. Sometimes we won't settle for reconciliation.
Jesus told His disciples about how to forgive, who to forgive, and how often to practice forgiveness. In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Seven times seems like a lot. Seven times seems like a reasonable amount of chances at forgiveness and reconciliation. But Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 18:22, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." Jesus taught His disciples that forgiveness for the Christ follower should be unlimited! When we choose to practice forgiveness and reconciliation, we are walking like Christ. However, when we choose to refuse to forgive and refuse to reconcile, we are walking in darkness.
Over the past few years, social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. Social media can be such a useful tool and a blessing, but it can be a dangerous weapon that the enemy, the devil, uses to destroy fellowship with one another and with our communities. We really need to be careful with our choice of words and our actions using social media. In situations where we have sinned against one another or hurt one another, we need to practice Matthew 18:15-17. We really need to embrace repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. All of us as Christ followers have been called to live differently. When we fail, and we will fail at times because we are human, we should apologize from the heart and move forward in the love of Christ. I pray that God will forgive me of all my wrongs. I pray that all of the people I've wronged will forgive me, as well. And I pray that God will give me wisdom to use my words wisely, both privately and publicly. And finally, I pray that I will embrace the forgiveness that Jesus teaches and demonstrates in His Word...to the glory and honor of God. Amen.