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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

July 15, 2011

The "unplucked chicken" (part 2)

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Jesus tells us what to do when we have to "pluck a proverbial chicken" with our brother.

"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).

In the parallel account Jesus shows that we should discuss the situation with our brother (or sister) alone (Matthew 18:15).

What is the goal of the talk described in Matthew 18, verse 15? "If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15). The passage quoted in Luke 17 also shows that forgiveness is a desired result of our brother "hearing" us and responding accordingly.

However, some see Matthew 18 as a verbal opportunity to pay someone back for the hurt he (or she) has caused. Let’s remember that the apostle Paul warns us concerning revenge: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:18-21).

God’s dealings with human beings are not for the purpose of vengeance or getting back at someone, but instead for atonement. God wants to restore the relationship that has been damaged by sin. We see that through His willingness to sacrifice His son for us: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Our goal in life is to enter the kingdom of God. We won’t be alone there – there will be many more children of God with us in that kingdom. We should want to have a close family relationship with all of them.

Let’s remember that in this life when an interpersonal problem needs to be addressed. The goal should be removing the damage that the relationship has suffered through the offense. The person who caused the problem should recognize that, and the person addressing the problem via a personal talk should not seek revenge, but instead atonement with his brother (or sister).

With these thoughts I wish us all a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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