God's People Are To Get Along and Solve Problems

Dr. Steve Viars December 31, 1999

God's People Are To Get Along and Solve Problems
(Matthew 18)
Christ told His disciples:  "By this [your love for one another] all men will know that you are My disciples" (Jn. 13:34, 35).  In Eph. 4:16 Paul describes a healthy church as one in which every member is meeting needs and, as a result, the body is not only healthy but also increases.  Heb. 10:24 commands believers to stimulate one another to love and good works.  There are numerous passages in the New Testament exhorting believers to love and care for "one another."
This love and care for one another is not to cease when a believer does wrong in a way that hinders growth and interpersonal relationships.
Notice carefully that the unloving legalists in Jn. 8:3-11 ignored the problem of the man taken in adultery and sought to cut off the woman involved.  However, in the Book written to combat legalism, Paul tells the Spirit-controlled believer to set out to "restore" a believer who is "caught in any trespass" (Gal. 6:1).  Love is to motivate us!  We cannot ignore or destroy as the legalists do; love cannot stop when conflicts arise; love must seek to restore.  We are to care for one another when the need is greatest.
However, we must be careful.  The greater the problem, difference, or conflict; the greater the love that must be manifested and the greater the need to follow Christ's principles.  Let's study them.

I. How To Keep from Being Offensive

(personal preparation)
A. What was the disciples' question in Matt. 18:1?

1. What had Jesus just told His disciples prior to this?  (See Mk. 9:31-37.)
2. Instead of being sorrowful about His death, what did the disciples argue about?  (See Lk. 9:46-48.)



2 – Getting Along and Solving Problems


B. What did Jesus say when each disciple, demeaning his brothers, claimed to be "more worthy" to lead?
1. Note some words to describe the characteristics of one who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3-5).
2. How severe is it to cause a fellow believer to stumble or cause offense (Matt. 18:6, 7)?
3. Before we can go to restore another (vv. 11-19), what kind of careful self-discipline is needed as described in vv. 8, 9?
4. Why does v. 10a say we should not "despise" or "think down" younger believers?
5. Rather than cut off, think down, or drive away, what does vv. 11-14 teach us to do?

II. What To Do When I Realize I Have Offended Another

(causing a breach in the relationship)
A. As a person prepares to worship, what degree of importance is given to settling an offense (Matt. 5:23, 24)?
B. What kind of attitude is necessary during worship? Read the following verses and write your answers.
1. Rom. 12:19
2. Mk. 11:24-26
3. Eph. 4:31, 32
C. What kind of action aids this (Rom. 12:20, 21)?

Getting Along and Solving Problems – 3

III. How To Do Deal with a Brother Who Has Offended Me

(Read Gal. 6:1 and Matt. 18:15.)
A. Note the steps to take in Matt. 18:15-17.
1. (v. 15)  "If your brother"
There is to be loyalty in the Christian ranks.
a. Jn. 13:34, 35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you _______________ ______________ __________________;. . .
By this all men _____________ ____________ _______ ________ ________ __________________, . ."
b. Gal. 6:1:  "Brethren, even if a ___________ __________ __________________ _________ ______ ____________, you who are spiritual _____________ __________ ________ __________ in a spirit of gentleness; . ."
2. (v. 15) "Trespass"
Gal. 6:1:  "...be tempted"
a. Note:  This does not regard personal preferences.  There is a breaking of Scriptural Truth, and the brother is "tempted," or "caught," in it.
b. Is any action to be taken because of "hearsay"or the proverbial "smoke"?  Is any action necessary if a brother falls in an area but recovers quickly and grows?
What is the difference?

3. (v. 15)  "Go"
Do not wait until the reproofs of life teach him or until others are hurt.  Go!  This is a test of Christian love.  How is it described in the previous verses (Matt. 18:12-14)?
4. STEP #1
(v. 15) "Tell"
This is a strong word that means "to convict" or "to convince."  It is the same word used in Jn. 16:8.

4 – Getting Along and Solving Problems

a. Why do you think that the believer must go in great love and concern to convince?  How did sin cause man to act toward God's Truth in Gen. 3:8-13?
b. According to Matt. 18:15, is he to be approached in front of others?  If not, then how is he to be approached?


5. What is the GOAL in the following verses?
a. Matt. 18:15
b. Gal. 6:1 
c. Jas. 5:20 
6. STEP #2
(v. 16)  What is to be done if step #1 fails?

a. They are to go to:
1)   evaluate and establish the truth.
2)   put pressure toward settling and healing.
3)   keep few involved.
b. Who should be chosen to go?

7. STEP #3
(v. 17)  What is to be done if step #2 fails?

a. What is still the GOAL in the following verses?
1)   Gal. 6:1
2)   I Cor. 5:5
3)   Read II Cor. 2:6-8.  What does it say concerning the successfulness of the command in   I Cor. 5:5?
Getting Along and solving Problems – 5

a. Note:
1)  Step #3 is the last resort.  The first two steps maybe continued if there is no great danger or
rapid deterioration and if there is progress.
2)  Remember that a doctor scrubs before an operation.  This is what Christ meant in Matt.
18:18, 19 and what Paul meant in Gal. 6:1 ("...each one looking to yourself").
3)  All must purpose to "bind on earth" what has already been bound (settled) in heaven
(Matt. 18:18, 19).  All must agree to take God's side!!
4)  "Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer" (v.17).
The goal is still to restore him.  Friendly and kind?  Yes!  But he is not to be recognized as a brother in Christ.  If he is a family member, eat with him as a family member, but not as a fellow believer. (See I Cor. 5:11.)
The goal is restoration!!  This demands that we take God's side and say, "Believers repent! Believers honor the Word!"  (See Jn. 10: 27, 28 and I Jn. 1:6-10.)
B. What promise is given to two or three who gather in Christ's name to restore a believer
(Matt. 18:20)?
C. What truths did Jesus teach about forgiving those who repent in the parable of Matt. 18:21-35?

1. Peter thought he was being very generous by choosing the number "seven."  The teachers of law taught less.  What did Jesus say?

2. How did the offenses of the two men in the parable compare?


Getting Along and Solving Problems – 6
1. Who taught this method of aiding each other in solving offenses (Matt. 18:2)?
2. How many church problems and lacks of harmony have you known about?  How many believers do you know have gone astray without anyone practicing Matt. 18 to restore them?
3. When a person comes to share a problem with you about someone else, how should you tell him to handle it according to Matt.18:15?

Be sure to inform him that you will check with him soon to inquire if he has handled the problem Biblically.  If he went to the offender and did not get satisfaction, encourage him to get the pastor or a deacon to go with him.
To whom did Christ promise a blessing in Matt. 5:9?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video