LETTING bygones be bygones is not a biblical concept, nor is maintaining a fight for people to turn from their ‘wicked ways’ through the mode of aggression. That’s not to say that letting bygones be bygones is wrong, per se. Sometimes, for our own sanity, we need to. Indeed, letting bygones be bygones, as far as we are personally concerned, is probably, in some ways, wise.
But sometimes injustices scream out to be called for what they are.
And if we are able to do that without making the situation worse — without making our own behaviour part of the problem — then perhaps God will use us to that end.
There is beauty in these words of Jesus of Matthew 18:15: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over...”
Some of the later manuscripts (and the earlier ones are best) that have “If your brother or sister sins against you...” would suggest Jesus limits our involvement to those sins that are done only against us. But, if we take his words to be relevant for the time — when community meant actually caring for justice within the community — when justice wasn’t thought of as just an interpersonal thing — we can see how the earlier manuscripts broaden our capacity to “go!” if we are concerned by the sin someone does against anyone.
There is a breadth of reach in our leadership in calling someone to repentance.
This is not anything about judging or condemning them.
It is simply about presenting a factual case of observed deeds before them. It is for the Holy Spirit, then, to convict them (or not), if the case presented has been shown to compel such spiritual action of repentance within them. If not, then the admonishing party has the option of Jesus’ instructions in verse 16 and 17.
Leading someone to repentance is a biblical invocation, if we can do so in the spirit of love that seeks to restore the person. We love our brother or sister. We want to see the one who has sinned, restored. We believe that repentance leads to learning; that of the importance and benefits of reconciliation.
Repentance is a lifeblood by restorative truth in the community of faith.
There is no better outcome when we have sinned than when God gets our attention and has us reconcile matters with our estranged brother or sister.
Repentance is impelled by the loving concern of God manifest through the sinning believer, which teaches them a better way.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.