Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 9, 2018
Text: Matthew 18:15-20 ILCW – A 18:2083
Theme: He’s My Brother!
Dusk had fallen. The warm air lay thick as a young boy trudged home. On his back rode his little brother. Huffing and puffing as he went, the boy passed a man out for an evening stroll. The man smiled as he saw the lad struggling. “Quite a load for a boy!” he said. Looking into the man’s face, the red-faced boy grunted between puffs for air, “Oh, he ain’t heavy, sir; he’s my brother.”
He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother. It’s not a Biblical phrase, but surely it ought to reflect a Christian’s thoughts towards others who need his help. The Bible says, “Keep on loving each other as brothers” (Heb.13:1). And again, “Love the brotherhood of believers” (1Pt.2:17). And again, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ’ (Ga.6:2). Think of the difference it would make in our world if everyone took seriously the implications of true Christian brotherhood. And what a difference our church could make if we all would see ourselves as we are through faith in the Savior – brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is the one whose heart has been warmed by the Savior’s love who will carry his brother on his shoulders. Without batting an eye, he can look up into the face of God and say, “He’s not heavy, Father; he’s my brother.” But, in the weakness of our flesh, it is not always so easy to do, especially when things aren’t right between us. Yet, at such times our Lord encourages us more than ever to keep on loving our brother. Even though it may seem to be the Christian’s hardest work, “Keep on loving,” the Savior bids. “He’s your brother! And if there’s something wrong between you,
I. …go to him with My words.”
The Lord Jesus put it this way: “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. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along.”
Is there something wrong between you and your brother in faith? Go to him. Show him when things aren’t right. And since the Word of God is the standard by which God judges and makes plain His love for sinners, go to him with the words of Christ. But go!
That’s the hard part; there is where the struggle can lie because
the devil and our flesh want us to do something different. They seek to prevent us from going with God’s Word because the devil wants to keep that person wandering in sin until he’s walked right out of the kingdom of God. That’s what Satan wants – another soul won for him, lost for eternity. And so he makes it difficult.
He whispers in the ear, “Who gave you the right to say anything? Look what you yourself have done. Who are you to talk?” He downplays the matter, “Oh, it’s not so bad what he’s doing. Just wait and see what happens.” He persuades towards complacency, “Look, you’ve done enough. It’s his life anyway, not yours. Don’t get involved.” And with many other excuses and accusations the devil tempts us to overlook sin and the eternal needs of our brother caught in it. He gets us to think: “It’s easier, it’s wiser, it’s safer, it’s more comfortable, it’s the right thing to do to do nothing.”
Jesus responds, “Go and show him his error with the Word of Christ. Seek to win him back for the Savior.”
Hard work? Perhaps, because our sinful flesh doesn’t like being corrected. It wants to blind us to that which is really happening.
For example, King David was a believer, a good man, a man whom God called after His own heart. The Lord loved David. But there was a point in his life when he allowed his sinful nature to cut himself off from God and committed adultery with Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, he had her husband killed in battle to cover up his sin. At that point he simply turned off his conscience and wouldn’t admit to himself the evil he had done.
God sent the prophet Nathan to him to expose his sin, just the two of them at first because love moves brothers in faith to keep such matters private. “Serve one another in love,” Paul wrote (Ga.5:13). It worked. David listened, repented, and was forgiven.
It doesn’t always work that way. There was King Saul in the Old Testament and Judas in the New where words fell on deaf ears.
What might be necessary then, after every avenue is sought – for love goes the extra mile – is that more than just one Christian go, more representatives from the church. Hopefully then, as others go when things aren’t right, the brother would see and change.
Hard? Perhaps. But he’s my brother! How can I hesitate to be Christ’s witness and do whatever is required? Even to the point, Jesus says, of “treating him as you would a pagan or tax collector.” Remove yourself from him. Yet, at the same time remember how the Savior reached out to such with His redeeming love.
After all, isn’t that what He did for us? When things weren’t right between us and God because of our sin, Christ loved us with an everlasting love and went to the cross for our sin to win us back for Him. That was hard work. But it didn’t stop Him. He did whatever was necessary. That’s love, for the Bible says, “There is no greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends” (Jn.15:13). It’s the binding factor of our Christian lives.
The story is told of a woman who one day brought a box she had received in the mail to her friend. “They fooled me,” she said. “The ad offered to send a box of perfect glue free. But look what I got!” Her friend opened the box. Inside was a piece of paper. Written on it was one word: Love. “The ad promised it would mend almost anything,” the woman said, a little angry. “Well, what they say is true in a way,” her friend responded. “Love will mend almost anything, even broken hearts and lives.”
It’s true; love is the best glue in the world, especially Christ’s love. It glues a family together; it binds friends to each other; it holds a congregation of believers as one. Christ’s love helps us treat each other as brothers, with heaven’s kindness, no matter how honest we might have to be. It mends the cracks when things don’t go right. Even in the hardest work love in Christ binds us together even as His redeeming love bound us to God.
So, before we say mean words, make that sour face, turn our backs in anger – when things aren’t going right between us, go to your brother in Christ-like love. Go with Jesus’ words. It may be the hardest work you do as a Christian, but in Christ he’s my brother! Christ binds us together. And before and after you go…
II. …go to the Lord in prayer. That’s a vital ingredient that helps. Not only are we to go to our brother in love with the words of Christ, but first and last go to Christ in prayer.
After giving these instructions on working with a brother who has sinned against us, Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven…And if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Come to Me in prayer,” Jesus bids us.
How important that we go to the Lord in every matter that governs the welfare of the soul! How important that we cultivate the habit of prayer in which the Savior’s presence among us is assured! Whether there be 100 gathered together or just 2 or 3, He is in our midst. He hears, He guides, and He will bless us with His saving presence. In all that we do, our activity shall be blessed beyond measure if we place our hand in His in prayer. And when we come together in His name, “It will be done,” He says.
Imagine 2 children asking their father to take them on an outing. The one says, “You ask Dad about it.” The other responds, “No, you ask him.” The first then replies, “Let’s both ask him.” So, they asked their father together. When he saw that they both wanted the same thing very much, he said, “Well, if you both want it so badly, maybe we can.”
In a similar way the Savior invites us to come to Him and talk with Him. Even if there are only two of us, the Savior is there, He will listen, and He will answer our prayers in behalf of a fallen Christian. After all, he’s my brother. Such a wonderful promise! God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.