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How to Respond to an Offending Brother or Sister In The Church

1. Recognize that human conflict, in or out of the church, usually stems from tensions created when the interests of one person or group are positioned against the interests of another (see Phil. 4:2-3; Acts 15:1-35).
2. Remember and communicate that the personal rights of a Christian often must be subordinated, in the interests of a positive Christian witness and the good of other persons (see Matt. 5:38-42; 26:52; Rom. 12:11-21; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Phil. 2:3-4). Related to this point is another principle: There is a difference between standing for personal rights and in standing for what is right (see 1 Cor. 8:13; 10:23-24, 31; Phil. 3:4-7).

3. Be sensitive to what is the right attitude and action in conflict situations and to its dependence on Christian maturity as expressed in:
Putting the interests of others above personal interests.
Openness and eagerness to follow the Holy Spirit's leadership (see John 14:26; 16:12-13; 1 Cor. 2:6-13; Phil 2:3-4; 1 John 2:26-27).
 
4. Go to the New Testament for at least four models on how to deal with fellowship problems in the church:
If you have offended a brother, Matthew 5:23-26 indicates the following:
Your worship is hindered by a broken relationship.
Stop what you are doing and be reconciled with your brother.
After reconciliation, you and your offering then are more acceptable to God.
Reconciliation is to be sought quickly and privately.

If a brother has offended you, Matthew 18:15-22 specifies:
You are to go personally and try to be reconciled with your brother. Regardless of who the offender is, each believer is responsible for seeking reconciliation.
If you are not heard or are rebuffed, you are to take others with you as a witness to your desire for reconciliation.
If the group is not heard or is rebuffed, you are to ask for church support.
If the offending brother continues to refuse reconciliation, you have fulfilled your Christian duty.
But the reconciliation process is to be pursued in patience and forgiveness and over a period of time dictated by love, not the stated limits of church policy or law.
If two unreconciled brothers go to court to settle their dispute, 1 Corinthians 6:1-13 indicates the following:
To take such an action is a negative reflection upon the rest of the church.
To pursue legal action is to turn over to public courts problems the church should resolve.
Both parties should rather be wronged or defrauded than to subject themselves and the church to this negative witness to the world.
To take such action is to deny the spiritual life that each party has in Christ.
If two sisters have a disagreement, Philippians 4:2-23 points out these principles:
Reconciliation is vitally important to them and the church.
The church is not to be passive, but active, in seeking reconciliation.
The blessings of past happy relationships are not to be forgotten.

5. Will these principles work in the contemporary church? They will, if:
There is a genuine, Spirit-induced, personal and congregational burden for reconciliation.
Actions are taken in genuine Christian love.
Ego, pride, and personal rights are subordinated to the good of the other party and the body as a whole.
There is a broad base of personal and congregational openness to the transforming leadership of the Holy Spirit. The church genuinely wants to be the body of Christ, instead of merely a religious organization.

(Adapted from Earl Waldrup, "How to Reclaim an Offending Brother," Great Commission Breakthrough: "How to" Ideas for Great Commission Churches)

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