This reflection focuses on Matthew 18:15-20. Jesus tells us to point out our friends’ faults. Is that really a good idea? Are we really supposed to point out each other’s sins?
Start by having everyone get comfortable. After a little warm up discussion about how everyone’s week has been, ask this question
- Imagine your friend had a fork and was going to put it in an electrical socket. What would your reaction be?
- Would you try to stop your friend? Why or why not?
- If you didn’t stop your friend and he or she got hurt, would you feel at all responsible?
Now read Matthew 18:15-20.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus isn’t saying we need to point out every little sin. Nobody would ever talk to us again. But some sins really cause harm, either physically or spiritually. And we can’t always see that harm when we are caught up in it.
- What are some sins which can cause physical harm? (Alcohol abuse, inappropriate dating behavior, etc)
- What are some sins which can cause spiritual harm? (Not going to Mass, prejudice, etc)
The suggestion is that you try to do this on your own at first. But if that doesn’t work, enlist the help of somebody else. This could be another friend, your pastor, or another caring adult, such as your youth minister.
Jesus is also not saying we should do this in a judgmental way. There is a right and wrong way to talk to each other about sin. First of all, we must remember that we are all sinners. Secondly, we must do this with a true attitude of love.
Let’s role play how we should and should not talk to our friends. Get a few volunteers. Pick a “sin” that they should talk to one of the volunteers about. It can be something mentioned above, or you can choose something silly., like their favorite food. First have them demonstrate the “wrong” way. Instruct them to be really judgmental and harsh.
- How would you feel if somebody talked to you like that?
Now have your core team (or volunteers you can trust) demonstrate the “right” way. Have them be loving and caring. They should truly show concern for the”sinner’s” well being.
- What did you like better about this approach?
- Would you respond better to the first method or this more loving method?
Another thing Jesus tells us to do is to pray. So don’t just talk to your friend. Pray for him or her also.
If there is time, this is a good point to introduce the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Follow the link for more information and suggestions.
Close with a prayer.