How to: Treat the Newbies

“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:10-20

I’ll start with reproving sins, because honestly it’s easier to understand. Jesus basically gives us a step-by-step guide for how to approach another believer with sin in their life. First you approach them alone, so they don’t feel ambushed or embarrassed. But if they don’t listen, bring a few other people along so that they know you aren’t picking on them or something. If they still won’t listen, get the whole church involved. (YES, it is the whole church’s business! We are a family now, and we need to help each other like a family would.) If they still won’t listen, assume they are a non-believer and drop it. After all, a true believer changes. And we don’t hold non-believers to our Christian standards. That would be ridiculous and pointless.

I think it’s important to remember, however, that back in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us not to judge others. It’s a careful balancing act between holding each other accountable and judging each other. Sometimes it might be hard to tell the difference. Also, remember not to approach someone about their sin if that sin (or any sin, really) is running rampant in your life. Remove the log before you help with the speck. Get yourself as in control as possible before you start trying to help others. It’s better for you, and it will be received better by them.

The lost sheep is straight forward enough, but it made even more sense when our Study Bible said it was more about new believers than children. We need to love new believer and try help them not get led astray. This goes hand in hand with not being a stumbling block. New believers need all the help they can get, and if you’re hurting instead you’re doing twice as much damage, because they don’t have that firm foundation yet.

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