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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox


(Jesus said to the disciples),“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” ~ Matthew 18:15-20

I'm usually a big fan of the New Revised Standard Translation of the Bible (NRSV), but there is something missing at the beginning I think here that is captured better in the New International Version (NIV), which begins like this:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you."

This says a lot about who we are to each other in our congregations. We are family, and as family, we are meant to be connected. We are meant to be in relationship.

Widen the lens a little and there's more to it even than that. Jesus seemingly refers to Gentiles and tax collectors here as those who are outside of the relationship. But really, most of us would fall under the category of Gentile or tax collector before we qualified as one of the children of Israel.

And Jesus time and time again sought to bring even those outsiders into the relationship.

There's such an intentionality here as Jesus gives a process for healing conflict. If at first something doesn't succeed, keep at it. Keep working on the relationship.

And even if all of this doesn't work, do as the Message Bible suggests: start all over from scratch.

Keep going. Relationships matter.

Holy One, help me to be reconciled to those siblings I am in conflict with. Amen

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