Not Win; But Win the Brother
Monday After the Baptism of our Lord
14 January 2019
If we really desire to benefit our neighbor, we are best to confront him personally with his sin against us. If we run about spreading the tale of his sin, we will merely hurt his reputation in the community and the church, and do nothing to facilitate his renovation and amendment of life. If we slander him by speaking of his sin in public, he may become snarling and vicious like a raccoon treed by the dogs. This will be beneficial neither to us nor to him.
If he apologizes to us in private and seeks reconciliation with us, then we have won a brother over. Our goal is to win the brother over. If our goal is to "win" the argument, this method will never suffice. If we want to be justified in the eyes of others, a private reconciliation will not work. But this process is not about our justification before others, but our reconciliation with a brother and his justification before God. God's righteousness matters most here and not our self-righteousness. Our goal is not to win, but to win the brother.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"In Matthew 18:15, Christ says, 'If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.' Here you have a precious and excellent teaching for governing well the tongue, which is to be carefully kept against this detestable misuse. Let this, then, be your rule, that you do not too quickly spread evil about your neighbor and slander him to others. Instead, admonish him privately that he may amend his life. Likewise, if someone reports to you what this or that person has done teach him, too, to go admonish that person personally, if he has seen the deed himself but if he has not seen it, then let him hold his tongue.
"Further, Christ teaches, 'But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses' (Mt 18:16). So the person concerned in this matter must always be dealt with personally, and must not be spoken about without his knowledge but if that does not work, then bring it publicly before the community, whether before the civil or the church court. For then you do not stand alone, but you have those witnesses with you by whom you can convict the guilty one. Relying on their testimony the judge can pronounce sentence and punish. This is the right and regular course for checking and reforming a wicked person. But if we gossip about another in all corners, and stir the filth, no one will be reformed. Later, when we are to stand up and bear witness, we deny having said so. Therefore, it would serve such tongues right if their itch for slander were severely punished, as a warning to others. If you were acting for your neighbor's reformation or from the love of the truth, you would not sneak about secretly nor shun the day and the light (Jn 3:19-20)."

 Martin Luther, 
Large Catechism,
Matthew 18:15-20

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."(ESV)
O Lord, help me keep my tongue, that I might see that my sinning brother receives Your righteousness for the sake Christ, who died for us both. Amen.
For the family of Wolfgang Maskos as they mourn his death, that You would be their companion in solitude, their deliverer from trouble, and their life in death
For Memorial Lutheran School, that children would have joy in the gift of education
For the enemies of the church, that they would be led into repentance and confess the same faith in the mercy of God for Christ's sake that we ourselves confess
Art: RENI, Guido  Baptism of Jesus  (c. 1623)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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