Caring about Lost Sheep

Caring about the Lost

Matthew 18:15-20

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

 

            We need to ask ourselves two questions:  First, do we care enough about others to confront them when they fall into sin?  Second, do we have a strong enough desire to grow in Christ that we welcome someone when they confront us with sin?  We must ask these two questions in response to the passage before us.  The mantra today is that we are not to judge others.  In other words, we are not to condemn any sin in other people's lives. Instead, we are to accept not only them but also their behavior.  If we denounce corruption, we are labeled as judgmental.  However, this passage dispels that argument. 

            As we read this passage that outlines the process of church discipline, we must place it into the context of the lost sheep.  In the previous verses, God deeply cares for anyone who strays from his truth.  Verses 15-20 then follow and are linked to this parable.  The point is, if we care about the lost sheep, we will care enough to confront someone going astray.  This is not judgementalism.  A judgmental person points out the faults in others to justify their self-righteousness.  By pointing to the faults of others, they seek to elevate themselves. In this passage, the reason we confront the person in their sin is not to promote ourselves but to bring them back into fellowship with Christ.  They are the lost sheep that we are seeking to find and restore.  The purpose of Church discipline is to deliver them from the bondage of sin.  Thus, it raises the first question:  Do we care enough about others that we are willing to confront them when they become entrenched in sin? Sin is always destructive, so do we care about people when they are being destroyed by sin? 

            But there are two people involved in the passage.  The passage is about our attitude when we see people trapped in sin and the response of the individual being confronted.  Sin always blinds us to the truth. The tragedy of sin is that it can trap us and blind us to its presence.  More often than not, we fail to see when sin has gripped us. Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”  They do not see the need to accept Christ because they are spiritually blinded (see also 1 John 2:11, 1 Corinthians 1:18-19, Matthew 13:15-16).  Sin is deceptive, and the most tragic part of our spiritual lives is that we remain blind to our faults.  When someone comes and confronts us with a sin in our life, are we willing to listen?  Do their warnings cause us to reflect upon our life and pray, as David did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…and see if there be any hurtful way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24)?  In Ecclesiastes 7:5, the sage reminds us, “It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools.”  If we are genuinely concerned about God’s redemptive purpose for humanity, we will not only confront sin and call people to repentance, but we will also welcome people confronting us so that we might also repent of our sins. 

 

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