Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3331

Jump Start # 3331

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

  I have been teaching a class entitled, ‘The Marks of Maturity.’ The mature disciple is what the Lord wants out of all of us. Act like men, is what the Corinthians were told. Grow up is what the Ephesians were told. The  lack of maturity among the Hebrews made the writer conclude that they needed to be taught again.

  One of the things about maturity is that it is much easier to see immaturity than it is to describe maturity. Age has nothing to do with maturity. There are plenty of grown ups who have never grown up. Pity parties, whining because they didn’t get their way, pouting, selfish, throwing fits, this is not three-year-olds on an airplane, it’s adults at ballgames, restaurants and even in church services. Oh, the example we often leave before little eyes is sad.

  Our verse today illustrates two avenues of maturity. Although the word ‘mature’ is not found here, the concept and principle certainly is.

  First, it takes a mature heart to go and have a conversation with someone who has done wrong. Most texts will state in the footnotes, ‘If your brother sins against you.’ That’s personal. It’s one thing to see someone doing wrong, but you don’t have any personal part in that. However, if the sin was against you, you have been hurt. It’s your feelings that have been crushed. It’s your name and your reputation that has been tarnished. Now, we have something really invested in this matter. Someone has done you wrong and nothing has been done to make it right.

  Here is where maturity or immaturity surfaces. In our hurt and anger, we can tell others. We can find ways to get even. We can just cut the person off and avoid him forever. So easy to do that. So immature to do that. The other person may not be aware that they have hurt you. They may have said something as a joke, but it wasn’t funny to you, because it ridiculed you.

  What we typically do is wait for the offender to come to us. Why should I go to him, we say? I didn’t do anything wrong. He owes me an apology. So we sit and we wait. And while we wait, we stew. Our thoughts get darker and our mood becomes ugly. And we wait. And we wait. And, nothing happens. This is about the time that sides are drawn up, nasty things are said, and someone leaves. This happens because we don’t follow the Lord’s words here.

  The person who was hurt is the one who initiates the conversation. He goes and shows the fault is what the text tells us. It takes a lot of maturity to do that. It takes a lot of courage to do that. What if he gets defensive? What if he gets angry? And, the more we think that way, the more we talk ourselves out of going. Go is what Jesus said. It may not be easy. It may not be what you want to do. Either, let the hurt go or go and have a conversation with the offender. Not the shepherds in the church. Not the preacher. But go to the person who hurt you.

  To do this, one must pray and pray hard. To do this, one must think about how to bring the topic up and how to address the matter. The goal is not for an apology. That ought to come naturally. The goal is to help someone be better. The goal is to help someone see that his actions hurt. The goal is not to prove you are right and the offender is wrong. The goal is to win a brother.

  Second, the other aspect of maturity is found in the person who is going to be talked to, the offender. Something he has done has hurt another. He may be aware of it. He may not be aware of it. Someone asks to meet with you. Immaturity suspects something and will dodge all contact and conversations. That’s immature. Immaturity will find excuses time and time again because he doesn’t want to face the music.

  The mature will listen. He will not fire a counter attack. He will not be defensive. He will listen. There is a chance that all of this was an innocent misunderstanding. There is a chance that an apology needs to be offered and extended. The mature realizes that he is not beyond making mistakes and even hurting others. The mature wants to grow and be better in the Lord. The mature understands that he doesn’t have all the answers nor does he always do things right.

  In the flow of these passages, Jesus, shows us two possible outcomes. The best is when this private conversation is met by two mature people and restoration and forgiveness flows. That’s the end of the matter. Nothing more needs to be said, ever again. Put the problem in an unmarked grave and never go back to visit it again. It’s over. Do not tell others about it, it’s over.

  But, there is a possibility that the offender won’t listen. Jesus then says to take two or three with you. The intensity is turned up. Another conversation. If the seriousness is understood and the person listens, it’s done. If not, one more step, tell it to the church. If the offender, now in a third conversation about this problem, still refuses to listen, he is to be disciplined.

  Maturity…immaturity. It’s really shown in a time of crisis.