Sabbath, July 9, 2011

“One of Christ’s last commands to His disciples was ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ John 13:34. Do we obey this command, or are we indulging sharp, unchristlike traits of character? If we have in any way grieved or wounded others, it is our duty to confess our fault and seek for reconciliation. This is an essential preparation that we may come before God in faith, to ask His blessing.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 144.

Mistakes cause hurt

1. Considering the typical weaknesses of human nature, what can happen in our relationships with others? Is this a reason to trifle with our own or others’ mistakes? What should we always remember in our own conduct?
Luke 17:1, 2 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

“Why this earnest language, than which none can be stronger? Because ‘the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.’ Shall His disciples show less regard for the souls of their fellow men than the Majesty of heaven has shown? Every soul has cost an infinite price, and how terrible is the sin of turning one soul away from Christ, so that for him the Saviour’s love and humiliation and agony shall have been in vain.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 438.

2. In what danger are we when we become angry or use offensive language?
Matthew 5:21, 22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

“It is true there is an indignation that is justifiable, even in the followers of Christ. When they see that God is dishonored, and His service brought into disrepute, when they see the innocent oppressed, a righteous indignation stirs the soul. Such anger, born of sensitive morals, is not a sin. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger or resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.

“God’s law reaches the feelings and motives, as well as the outward acts. It reveals the secrets of the heart, flashing light upon things before buried in darkness. God knows every thought, every purpose, every plan, every motive. The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity. God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. By His law He measures the character of every man.” –(The Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1085.

In case of offense

3. What principles will a child of God follow when someone offends him?
Leviticus 19:16, 17 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
Matthew 18:15, first part Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:…

“When parents, especially mothers, have a true sense of the important, responsible work which God has left for them to do, they will not be so much engaged in the business which concerns their neighbors, with which they have nothing to do. They will not go from house to house to engage in fashionable gossip, dwelling upon the faults, wrongs, and inconsistencies of their neighbors. They will feel so great a burden of care for their own children that they can find no time to take up a reproach against their neighbor. Gossipers and news carriers are a terrible curse to neighborhoods and churches. Two thirds of all the church trials arise from this source.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 465.

“Ministers of Christ should arise and engage in the work of God with all their energies. God’s servants are not excused if they shun pointed testimony. They should reprove and rebuke wrong, and not suffer sin upon a brother.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 213, 214.

4. What did Jesus teach concerning reconciliation in case of offense?
Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Personal question: How readily do you see and acknowledge your own errors and offenses against others?

 “… Sin is not to be lightly regarded. The Lord has commanded us not to suffer wrong upon our brother. He says, ‘If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him.’ Luke 17:3. Sin is to be called by its right name, and is to be plainly laid out before the wrongdoer….

“If a Christian is wronged by his brother, let him … follow out the instruction Christ has given. Instead of trying to avenge himself, let him seek to save his brother. God will guard the interests of those who love and fear Him, and with confidence we may commit our case to Him who judges righteously.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 248, 249.

Make reconciliation quickly

5. When we have difficulties with another person, how can differences be resolved quickly? What can happen if this is not done?
Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Matthew 5:25, 26 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

“Sin is sin, whether committed by one sitting on a throne, or by one in the humbler walks of life. The day is coming when all who have committed sin will make confession, even though it is too late for them to receive pardon. God waits long for the sinner to repent. He manifests a wonderful forbearance.” –(Manuscript 147, 1903) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1147.

“One class have come up without self-control; they have not bridled the temper or the tongue; and some of these claim to be Christ’s followers, but they are not. Jesus has set them no such example…. Some are nervous, and if they begin to lose self-control in word or spirit under provocation, they are as much intoxicated with wrath as the inebriate is with liquor. They are unreasonable, and not easily persuaded or convinced. They are not sane; Satan for the time has full control. Every one of these exhibitions of wrath weakens the nervous system and the moral powers, and makes it difficult to restrain anger on another provocation….

“But there is hope for them. Let this life, so stormy with conflicts and worries, be brought into connection with Christ, and then self will no longer clamor for the supremacy….” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 142.

Confession and forgiveness

6. If offenses are repeated and the offender continues to express his sorrow for them, how should he be treated? What makes it possible for a person to forgive someone sincerely and completely?
Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
John 16:7, 8 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

“Too often when wrongs are committed again and again, and the wrongdoer confesses his fault, the injured one becomes weary, and thinks he has forgiven quite enough. But the Saviour has plainly told us how to deal with the erring: ‘If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.’ Luke 17:3. Do not hold him off as unworthy of your confidence. Consider ‘thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ Galatians 6:1.

“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. When they come to you with confession, you should not say, I do not think they are humble enough. I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart?…

“We ourselves owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redempt text/javascript”> ion, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 249, 250.

7. What are we to do if we offend someone and realize our error? What should be done immediately?
Matthew 5:23, 24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

“Many are zealous in religious services, while between them and their brethren are unhappy differences which they might reconcile. God requires them to do all in their power to restore harmony. Until they do this, He cannot accept their services. The Christian’s duty in this matter is clearly pointed out.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 311.

For meditation

“Give the erring one no occasion for discouragement…. Let no bitter sneer rise in mind or heart. Let no tinge of scorn be manifest in the voice. If you speak a word of your own, if you take an attitude of indifference, or show suspicion or distrust, it may prove the ruin of a soul. He needs a brother with the Elder Brother’s heart of sympathy to touch his heart of humanity. Let him feel the strong clasp of a sympathizing hand, and hear the whisper, Let us pray. God will give a rich experience to you both. Prayer unites us with one another and with God. Prayer brings Jesus to our side, and gives to the fainting, perplexed soul new strength to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. Prayer turns aside the attacks of Satan.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 250.

For additional study

• Matthew 18:18-35

Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 428, 429, 450, 451

Key concepts

Express in your own words the key concepts of this very basic lesson.

Complete the following text:
“If thy brother trespass against thee, _________him; and if he _______, _______ him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt _________ him.”