Barbara Brown Taylor suggests we ask some questions before we proceed, such as: Am I sure I knowwhat I’m talking about? Have I given the other person every benefit of the doubt? What are my motives inconfronting her with my feelings? Do I want to make him feel bad, or do I really want peace? Andremember, Taylor says, being right is less important than being in relationship. Those are important questions to ask before pressing on to the difficult task of saying hard truth to peoplewho have sinned against us.It’s all the harder because of the tone it must take: not castigating or shaming, just telling the truth in love.This is a call for direct confrontation but not verbal abuse. Do you remember those words fromEphesians? “Speak the truth in love. . . Be angry, but do not sin . . .Let no evil talk come out of yourmouths, but only what is useful for building up . . . And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgivingone another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Kindness is the best chance we have of winning back abrother or sister. Scripture says it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. And that is the point -not to get something off your chest, or to heal yourself, but to restore relationship. And that’s what makesit a good fight.Even if harm was done deliberately, your attitude of love and gentleness may very well lead toreconciliation. What matters is repairing the relationship between the two family members. It’s aboutwinning your brother or sister, not winning an argument. It is possible to win the argument and lose yourbrother.If the person listens, which would seem to include hearing, accepting, repenting, and perhaps requestingforgiveness, then you have gained your brother or sister back to full relationship, to make the flock wholeagain.Sometimes, though, it doesn’t succeed. Some of us don’t listen well, even when we are lovinglyconfronted with our sins. So Jesus goes on.
ACT II - TWO OR THREE ON ONE
“But of you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may beconfirmed by two or three witnesses.”Now, what is this - a posse? No, this is about people in covenant who aren’t about to give up on eachother. To bring witnesses is to convince and persuade not to judge and convict. It’s about how incrediblyprecious our relationships under God truly are, and how all of us are harmed when even two of us areestranged. Jesus learned this from the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy (19:15).So, you take one or two with you, and not your best buddies either, maybe their best buddies; but mostimportantly, one or two people who live in covenant with both of you, helping you both hear and say andsee what’s true. It may be that we are wrong and we need wisdom outside ourselves.But of course, even this can fail.
ACT III - THE CONGREGATION ON ONE
If it does, then Jesus says go ahead and bring in the whole family, the entire congregation. Let all of youstretch toward the healing of a wound and the restoring of relationship. This is the length that covenantlove will go to. We’re to go as far as we possibly can for the sake of reconciliation.Frank Stagg says that these instructions picture a community where every member watches over another,the whole church assumes responsibility for every member, and every member is accountable to the wholechurch. 
Crescent Hill Baptist Churchhttp://www.crescenthillbaptistchurch.org/oldsite/sermon-09-7-08.htof 515/01/2010 15:24