What is a watchman? One who sees problems, speaks to the offender, and addresses them. How to respond? Matthew expounds on offenses to us - but what about sins that don't affect us directly? Ezekiel tells us to point out the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ, God's people. Why? The wicked person's blood - if we don't warn him - is on our hands.Amen.
Therefore we should warn our fellow Christian about his specific sin and its consequences. The ultimate consequence of sin is a slow death, both physical and (more important) spiritual.
We should also beware of our own self-righteousness. We too go from stealthy sin to full-blown rebellion, claiming cheap grace and possibly losing our salvation. We should not grow prideful in our warning of others - we should warn ourselves too.
Finally, since sins recur, we also need to point to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us. Show Jesus your sin, and your sin, Jesus. It needs no self-justification, but rather His forgiveness.
These tasks - "carefronting" - may entail risking the loss of a friendship. Many of us are afraid to "judge." But speaking a word of God, in caring confrontation, with an aim toward restoring the brother or sister to the faith, is not judging. It's reporting the liberating Word to them. Confront the person in love, therefore, because Christ's love for you and them compels you to.
Be Ezekiel, whose name means "God-strengthened." Let Christ's Word and sacraments give strength via forgiveness and faith to your humbled heart. Let Him go with you this week, and the next, and the next. Carefronting is very difficult. But the forgiveness it brings is a great reward.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Pentecost 17: "Carefronting"
Today's readings were Ezekiel 33:7-16 (sermon text), Romans 13:1-10, and Matthew 18:1-20.