by Kenneth C. Kroohs

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Kenneth C. Kroohs
Ezekiel 12:1-14; Psalm 119:33-48; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 18:15- 20
September 05, 1999

This is a very difficult sermon for me to preach. I cannot speak for anyone else but for me. Today's lessons discuss a big, big problem. One of the biggest problems we face, in our families, in our society at large, and in our church. The lessons today are about being part of a community and especially about how to respond to the person who does something wrong. Just for convenience and for the sake of time, let me use the word we seldom hear any more: how to respond to the person who sins.

We don't like to use that word. Part of our rationale for avoiding is actually good. Every one of us is a sinner. No one among us has the right, or the wisdom to truly judge another person. Calling them a sinner, saying they have done something wrong, is arrogant and egotistical. Judge not lest ye be judged!!

All good and reasonable and appropriate concerns. But what I like to call the "gospel but" -- Jesus starts meddling again. Jesus tells us that we must be willing to challenge the person who does wrong. Challenge the sinner.

Of course, let's face it, some people really live into this command!! They enjoy letting you know what you have done wrong!! Few of us like such a person, except maybe when we agree with them, and few of us would admit to being such a person.

But that form of aggressive condemnation is NOT what Jesus is teaching here. In fact, it appears that Jesus was speaking at least as much against that approach, that attitude, as He was speaking about the people who will not criticize another person.

Consider what Jesus does tell us to do. (We will also look at what Ezekiel has to say about this issue and some instructions from Paul.)

We do need to see the teaching in context. The verses before this are about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to search for the lost one. About the ext ...

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