Mathew 18: 15-35
I have often heard people quote from this passage to encourage others, especially those who are in small churches or meetings. Their intention is good, but perhaps this passage is not the one they should quote for it is out of context.
If we read it from verse 25 onwards, we see that the context is dealing with sin, it is not the size of a meeting. I think that the church should be an exclusive club. It is exclusive to people who are sinners and they know that they deserve Gods wrath, but God is merciful and has provided a sacrifice for sin in Jesus and we trust in him we are forgiven. However, the sinful nature sometimes still arises, and we need to kill it. We need to put off sin and there are many bible passages that tell us to do so.
This particular passage tells us how to deal with someone who refuses to put off sin. First of all, you see the person in private and discuss the matter. If they repent, then good. That is the end of the matter, it has been dealt with. If however, they refuse to repent then we are told to get two or three other Christians and discuss the matter with the person who refuses to stop sinning. If he repents then once again, that is the end of the matter, nobody else needs to know for we are not to be gossips. However, if he still refuses having been confronted by two or three people then we have to tell the church.
God makes a promise in verse 19 that if two agree on earth about anything then it will be done for them, but again, the context is still dealing with sin. God is promising that he will be honouring the judgment of those who are trying to bring the guilty party to repentance and to emphasize this in verse 20 God goes on to say in those famous words, “For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”.
God is saying that when confronting people with their sin and advising them to repent, those who are talking to them are speaking with Gods authority. They speak in his name and his name is the ultimate all-powerful authority that one day all of us shall answer to.
A wise person recognizes their own sin and confesses it to God and seeks to do better. This is the mark of someone who loves the lord and their sin grieves them.
Dear reader, if you know that there is something God wants you to repent of, will you do it, or do you need two or three or the whole church to confront you before you will listen to god?
“Where two or three are gathered, there am I in the midst of them” far from being words of encouragement from God, are in fact very solemn words of warning and thus God shows his kindness to us by giving us a warning.
I also think that this passage has another message for us in the present day. We need to remember to check the context of everything we are told or read to make sure that we have understood it properly and thus understand what God is saying.