When I was in school there was a friend of mine that began to have strong body odor. A number of the fellow students in the class also noticed and began to ask the question: “does that guy use deodorant?” “Somebody should talk to him about it.”
I knew it was true and I didn’t want to confront it. What would he say? Would he accept my words of advice or would he think I was simply being critical? In such situations, it’s much easier to gossip rather than confront the person in love.
But what about in a much more difficult situation? What about when that person has fallen into sin or that person has sinned against you?
God gives us advice for this in Matthew chapter 18 verse 15 where he says this:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” —Matthew 18:15
It is much easier to gossip, to tell other people about someone’s sin, rather than to confront the sinner. Why?
Why does God want us to go one-on-one to talk to them? So that they understand where we’re coming from: from the point of love, concern for their soul. Yes, God doesn’t want us to spread the rumor “did you hear what so-and-so did?” Or “did you hear what so-and-so did to me?” Or even to immediately go and tell our pastor about it, but rather to speak to that person one-on-one.
For what purpose? To win the brother over, that they might recognize their sin and that we might be there to assure them that even that sin is forgiven through the blood of their Savior Jesus Christ.
May God help us in such situations to be guided ever by His Word and to be motivated by love as we confront sin. Amen.