As much as you love your brother (or sister) in Christ, there are times when he may say or do things that are harmful to you. How are you to deal with these situations? Do you just ignore the problem and the offense? Do you tell him how bad he is, how you have no respect for him and pay him back in revenge for the thinks he has done to you? Do you hold the offense in your heart and become bitter? Of course not. These are ways that the people of the world react to offenses.
Jesus gave you instructions for dealing with a brother who sins against you. Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” If your brother has actually sinned against you, you should not ignore the problem. He needs to be aware of his sin and correct his way. Jesus teaches you to first go alone to your brother and tell him his fault. Most of the time, you can correct the problem between the two of you. If he will not listen to you or correct the problem, you should take one or two others with you and return to your brother so that they can hear what goes on between you and your offending brother. Your brother should realize how serious the matter is and should be open to resolving the problem. If he does not listen to you and to the others you take with you, you must next take it to the church. At this point, the church needs to hear the problem and judge between you and your brother. If your brother will not listen to the church, his heart is not right before God. You should treat him like a heathen and a tax collector. The Jews of Jesus’ time understood what that meant. They had no dealings with heathen and tax collectors and did not include them in their fellowship. That is how you should treat a brother who sins against you and will not listen to the church.
The church in Corinth had brothers who were taking their offenses before the legal system of the government. 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” If there is a conflict between you and another brother which cannot be resolved between the two of you, the church needs to decide the matter. Do not take your brother to court. The church will be able to use spiritual wisdom to resolve the matter and exercise mercy and justice. It would be better to allow yourself to be cheated and wronged rather than to take the matter before the courts of the government. There is no matter between brothers, however small or great, that should be taken before the courts; instead, the church should exercise judgment between the two of you.
How often can you have your brother sin against you? Luke 17:3-4 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” As often as he says he repents of his sin, you should forgive him. Since you want your Father in heaven to continue to forgive you, you must continue to forgive your brother from your heart when he repents.
When your brother sins against you, it is important to go to him and give him the opportunity to correct the problem. You do not want him to wander from the truth. He needs to repent. James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
When your brother (or sister) sins against you, you need to go to him and correct the problem. In such cases, I encourage you to use the principles as taught in the Bible to appropriately deal with such offenses.