• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 4



If I refuse correction in my life, I will withhold correction from others!


INTRODUCTION

Do you tend to gravitate toward conflict or avoid it? Why do you think that is?


How might our life experiences affect the way we deal with conflict?


What words come to mind when you hear the word “servant”? What are some common assumptions that we make or hear about serving?


Conflict in the church in unavoidable—it is going to happen, and when it does, we need to be biblically equipped to handle it in a way that honors Christ and protects the unity of the church. One of the keys to dealing with conflict is learning to put the needs of others ahead of our own. If we will learn to serve each other by laying aside our personal preferences, we will experience more fully the joy of living in Christian community.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Galatians 6:1

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Matthew 18:15-17

“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. 16 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.’ 17 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.

Luke 17:3-4

So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Matthew 18:15-17.

Addressing conflict is never a simple endeavor. It can be a relational minefield of difficulties. Yet Jesus provided a clear process of resolution for those courageous enough to forge ahead. In four steps, Jesus detailed how believers can resolve conflict.


How does Scripture instruct us to approach the one who sins against us?


How many conflict situations do we discuss openly with someone not in the conflict before ever speaking to the offending spouse, friend, or fellow believer? What does this say about our motives and fears?


In contrast to speaking publicly, what benefit does a private discussion offer for both parties?


What are strengths and weaknesses in applying the second step of conflict resolution, outlined in verse 16?


What qualities would you need to look for when choosing these witnesses (v. 16)?


What did Jesus mean when He commanded believers to “tell the church” (the third step) in verse 17?


Read Luke 17:3-4

What does it mean to rebuke someone (v. 3)? What does it not mean?


How are rebuke and forgiveness linked? What happens if you rebuke someone for his or her sin, but you aren’t willing to forgive?


Why is forgiveness such a critical characteristic of genuine faith?


How do you respond when another person asks you to forgive him or her? Do you need to do more to respond in a Christ-like manner?


Growing in our love for Christ involves more than simply overcoming temptation; it requires confronting our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in sin and forgiving those who sin against us. If our brother does repent, then we have an added responsibility. We must forgive just as God forgives, for this is the essence of our prayer life (Luke 11:4). Love requires that we fight the temptation to keep score and seek to forgive others as God has forgiven us in Christ.


MOVING FORWARD

  • For you, what is the worst thing that could happen in seeking reconciliation? What positive things might happen?

  • What challenges and obstacles do we often face when we need to rebuke a fellow Christian? How can we overcome them?


PRAY TOGETHER

Thank God for giving us Jesus as a faithful example of humble self-sacrificial service. Pray that we model the gospel to one another by putting others needs ahead of our own and that our love for one another would be a testimony of the gospel to the lost.


COMMENTARY

Matthew 18:15-17

18:15. “Church discipline” is commonly thought to refer only to those “official” cases, in which the sin is extremely serious, and the entire church becomes formally involved in the effort to correct the sinning brother or sister. In reality, church discipline is more biblically understood as covering every effort by any individual or group of individuals in the church to turn a straying believer back to righteous living. For this reason, Jesus addressed first every church member’s responsibility to go privately (between the two of you) to the sinning brother to “show” him his sin (“bring to light, expose”).

This is the gentlest of the four steps of church discipline. “Go” is in the Greek present tense (imperative mood), implying a gentle, patient series of confrontations. The motive is love, and the goal is to make it as easy as possible for the straying brother or sister to receive the message and make the change. We are to make every effort to avoid public or private humiliation.

After explaining the first step for confronting a sinning brother, Jesus acknowledged the better of two possible responses. He might actually “listen,” in which case “you have won your brother over.” We are to read into this statement all the joy of the Father over the rescued sheep in 18:13, and we are to assume that this is a much more likely outcome than many believers think possible. Done correctly in the environment of a trusting relationship, one-on-one confrontation will often result in a positive response. Let us start by believing in the power of God to turn a heart and the longing of every believer for the fulfillment and security of holy living.

18:16. In 18:15b, Jesus acknowledged the second and worse response toward a straying brother—continued resistance. In this case, the next step is to take “one or two others along.” Including the original confronter, this increases the number of confronters to two or three. This is important, as Jesus showed from Deuteronomy 19:15 (also Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6). These numbers are based on the requirement, under Mosaic Law, that no accusation should be taken seriously unless it was confirmed by the testimony of more than one witness. The purpose of the additional witnesses is primarily: (1) to bring added loving persuasion to the straying brother, so he will realize the seriousness of his sin; (2) to prepare for the possibility of the straying brother’s continued resistance (in this event, there would be third-party “testimony” concerning what happened in the confrontation); and (3) to provide one or two “referees” or moderators in the continued confrontation between the original confronter and the straying brother.

18:17. If every effort to turn the straying brother back to righteous ends in futility, the only alternative is to “tell it to the church.” What Jesus had in mind for the gathering of believers who should hear about the brother’s sin can be debated. In the first century, where communities were close-knit and the local churches were small house gatherings, everyone would naturally be a party to this problem. Because all might be affected by the brother’s sin; all church members should be warned of its danger. This way, all might be instrumental in helping bring the offender back to righteousness.

In the event that the believer continues to resist the appeals of all his brothers and sisters, he is to be removed from the fellowship. He has refused submission to the church (see Heb. 13:17). Therefore, he is to be treated as an unbeliever, which is precisely the position he has taken. Just as the Lord is open to receiving a repentant Pharisee (see Matt. 3:7-8; John 3:1-21; 7:50-52; 19:38-42), so also Jesus should be seen here as leaving the door open for even a hardened heart such as this to soften and return.

The Bible insists that every Christian be accountable to the local assembly. The Bible knows nothing of an isolated, individual Christian. The issue is not technology but theology. Christ insists the members of his body act like it!

Luke 17:3-4

The purpose of rebuking a sinner is to get him to repent of his sin. If there is true repentance, there should be full forgiveness. Seven is the biblical number of completeness. To forgive “seven times” means to keep forgiving, no matter what (see Matt. 18:21-22).



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Once, the brother of a friend of mine mentioned that he’d learned more about God since leaving the church. So his question was, “Why attend church?” You don’t HAVE to go to church to be a Christian, and in his mind, it had actually done him harm. The setting wasn’t one where I could talk openly about this with him. But if I ever get the chance, here’s what I’ll ask him: Which God do you refer to, the God of the Bible? The same God that commands we stay involved with His Church in a body of believers to encourage one another and make sure we’re staying true to His Word?

(Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV) How have you learned about God, through trial and error, personal experiences, or observing others (who may or may not be true followers)? When you do read the Bible, do you understand what you’re reading? Do you comprehend the overall message? How do you know you’re interpreting it correctly? Can you tell the difference between historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, or wisdom literature? I’d ask him how he knows I’M not leading him astray. In other words, what’s he anchored to, the Word, or his subjective experience and opinion? I’d ask him this to make the point that there are no “Lone Ranger” Christians. Nobody gets to go it alone and make up whatever version of Christianity suits them. Christianity is a team sport; it must be lived in concert with other followers to ensure we haven’t strayed from the true faith.

In Thought

Dear Lord, I want to know you fully as you know me fully. I don’t simply want to know about you, I want a personal relationship with you so that you can live through me. I want you to be the first one I run to when trouble comes, not a last resort as some do. Amen.

In Word

• Hebrews 10:23-25

• Acts 2

• Ephesians 3:4-15

In Deed

Spend some time today thinking about your relationship with God. Is He some mysterious figure you go to church to learn about and to get some spiritual sounding nugget to get you through the week? Or do you long to know Him as Father, and worship with a body of fellow believers, perhaps even serve them in some way?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

2 Corinthians 13:4

Confronting a brother or sister in Christ can be a scary thought. We may worry about what they will think, or if they will question our intentions in confronting them. Worries come rushing to our mind, and a knot forms in our stomach as we think about what to say.

We are right to be cautious; we should carefully check our motivation, and approach others from a place of humility and genuine love. However, there should be no need for us to fear confrontation when it is done for the right reason, and with the proper attitude (Galatians 6:1). The same life-giving power that raised Jesus from the dead also strengthened Paul as he confronted the Corinthians in their sin; this same power now resides in us, since we have put our faith in Jesus Christ. We are now able to speak truth to those around us with boldness and authority (Acts 4:13), knowing that this kind of encouragement and correction is essential for all of us. We are never told that it will be easy to restore a brother or sister in Christ, but we are not alone as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10

Grace is God’s favor and love shown to mankind. We can’t earn it or be good enough to deserve it. To truly appreciate grace, we must comprehend that our Father is …

Perfectly holy. God is without fault. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree, their connection with God was broken. Since all future generations inherited their sinful nature, every person is born with an inclination toward unrighteousness.

Just. As a result, God requires payment for sin. The penalty is death (Rom. 6:23), not just physically but also spiritually—through eternal separation from Him.

Merciful. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve but extends His grace through the Savior. Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Law. He alone qualified as the One who could satisfy divine justice. He took our place, bore our sins, and experienced God’s wrath—all so we could be reconciled to the Father.

God made this provision for our salvation while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). Have you acknowledged your sinful state and received His forgiveness through faith in Jesus? Take time to express thankfulness for His grace.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Jesus is not always happy about the state of the church, but He is very concerned about its welfare. Jesus said of the church, “All the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT).

In using the word church, I’m not speaking of a building; I’m speaking of people. The church exists for three reasons: the glorification of God, the edification of the saints, and the evangelization of the world.

When you’re walking with God, you’ll want to be with God’s people. And if you find yourself out of fellowship with God, then you’ll also find yourself out of fellowship with other believers. You’ll find yourself saying things like, “I don’t really know if I want to go to church today. Besides, there are so many hypocrites. When I go, I feel judged.”

An often-quoted verse is Matthew 7:1, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (NKJV). This could be translated, “Condemn not, that you be not condemned.” We are not to condemn other people. But evaluation is something we should do for one another, helping one another, encouraging one another, and, if necessary, correcting one another.

I reserve the right to confront, if necessary, a fellow Christian who is on the wrong track. As Hebrews 10 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (verses 24–25 NKJV).

God wants us to be holy people—not holier-than-thou in the way someone looks down at another with condescension. Rather, it means living a life that is honoring to God and wanting to become more and more like Jesus every day.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


DAY 5

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

Galatians 6:1

After observing the behavior of some people, you would think they have a verse in their Bible that says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, go and tell as many people as possible. And then ultimately go and try to drive that person away.” But this is not what Scripture tells us to do.

In Matthew 18, Jesus gave us the steps we should take when it appears someone has fallen into sin (and I emphasize the word appears). First, we must know all the facts. When you hear something about someone, instead of talking about it, determine to go to that person and say, “I heard this about you. Is it true?” Hopefully, you can get the issue resolved immediately.

But to fail to go to someone when you know a sin is being committed is to actually cause that individual, and the church as a whole, the greatest harm. Scripture says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9 NIV).

In most cases, you will find that believers rarely approach a sinning believer or allegedly sinning believer. Instead of seeking to help a person who possibly may have never sinned at all, they end up slandering that individual. This is wrong. If you have ever had this happen to you, then you know how painful it can be.

Remember, the devil wants to turn believers against each other. He will attack us from the outside, but many times, when that does not work, he seeks to infiltrate our ranks and divide us.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

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