Forbearance And Forgiveness

Forbearance And Forgiveness

O. G. C. Sprunt

“And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matt. 18:15).

When a Christian sins grievously the world not only rejoices but, because of the hypocrisy, blasphemes the holy name by which he is called, the name of Christ.

Christians occasionally hurt a fallen brother by; first, pharisaical, self-righteous slander; second, by aloofness and suspicion. The most difficult of all these cases is the one to which the Lord alludes when He says, “If thy brother sin against thee.” Perhaps this very thing has happened to you; another has sinned against you and hurt you deeply. If so, what did you do after the offence? Could it be that you yourself sinned, that your mind was filled with evil thoughts, and that you talked evil about this brother to your personal friends? On going to your own home, there may have been compunctions of conscience, but you justified your actions by saying, “It was all true, every bit of it.” The Lord Jesus says to you that you should go to your brother, and show him his fault between “thee and him alone.”

In your quieter moments and more serious moods you think, if he comes to me and asks forgiveness, of course, I will forgive him. You argue with yourself that since it is he who has wronged you, he must come and apologize. The Lord who knows all, nevertheless, says, “If thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone.” The Lord lays the obligation upon you to go.

It is well known that some have gone, and they have scolded the offending brother until resentment was stirred up in his heart. Such an attitude can only do further damage to Christian fellowship; it will not accomplish what the Lord intended. Before you go, you must decide just how you are going to win your brother. If one prays much before going, his attitude will be mellowed by the presence of the Lord. Furthermore, at prayer you may recall some similar offence of which you have been guilty. Memory can be a real help under such circumstances.

In your approach, be sure that you have a good conscience and that your move is done in humility. “If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Remember, God came to you after you had so deeply sinned; and remember, His forgiveness is the example to follow. “Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).

Do not attempt to reach your erring brother until you are willing that the Lord as a third party go with you, for with His presence you have hope of success. May God bless you!

“Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10). “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).