Thought for Thursday

Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matthew 18:15

Two old brothers lived in the neighbourhood, in houses only a couple of kilometers apart. Yet nobody in the neighbourhood could remember those two men ever speaking to each other. They seldom attended the same events or went anywhere that the other was likely to be, so there were few opportunities for anyone to observe animosity between them. Each refused to even speak of the other, and if you were to ask one about the other, all you got was a shrug or a ‘I wouldn’t know’. Nobody knew why they were at odds; neither ever offered any explanation. But in a neighbourhood where everybody else got along fine, those two old men had nothing to do with each other. They carried their grudge to the grave, too; old Dave died first, and Jerry would not even attend the funeral. It was sad to see those two old men deprive themselves of the company and affection of being brothers. It’s just as sad when two brothers or sisters in the Lord are at odds.

The Lord Jesus uses an interesting term about reconciliation between two brothers: the one who initiates the reconciliation gains his brother. That implies that while the quarrel or difference exists, the one has lost his brother. If there is a problem between me and another brother, that difference prevents me from sharing or benefitting from that brother. We are unable to appreciate the things of the Lord, unable to share in the burden of the Gospel, unable to rejoice at God’s blessings, unable to share the fellowship of the Lord’s people. That brother is lost, and that loss should not be allowed to exist.

We sometimes have to referee a dispute between some of the grandchildren. When they begin to quarrel, and we tell them to stop, one almost always says of the other, ‘But he (or she) started it’. Is that the way it is when we have a disagreement with another Christian? We didn’t start the dispute, so we refuse to be the one who moves to patch up the difference. Take a look at today’s text. The Lord Jesus reminds us that it is the person who is offended who initiates the reconciliation. Rather than brood over the injury, this person is to make every effort to resolve the issue. We would see far fewer disagreements linger among us if we all took that approach.

We can all use more brothers and sisters in the Lord. And for some of us, the way to have more is to patch up the differences with those we have lost through disagreements. -Jim MacIntosh

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