If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Some time ago I listened as two people spoke frankly to one other. As the discussion heated up a bit, one of the parties said something along the lines of, “How dare you say that to me? Don’t you know who I am?” The other person responded, “I am your friend. And if I am your friend, I must be able to speak honestly. Am I your friend?” Silence.
This week, yet another evangelical pastor has fallen in disgrace. From the outside looking in, it is apparent that another talented communicator had no one around him who was willing to speak the truth to him. He was popular in his circles and well-spoken, but no one had the courage to be his friend and challenge his attitudes or his actions. He was accountable to no one. Today, he is humiliated. His church is disillusioned and people outside the Faith have one more example that is quite Christ-less.
In the passage above, Jesus describes a direct encounter between two people. Notice that the person who is offended is to confront the offender – just between the two of them. It takes courage to do that, wouldn’t you agree?
Evidently, the prominent pastor had no one who had the courage to challenge him. There was no Nathan to correct David (2 Samuel 12:1-13). There was no Paul to confront Peter’s hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). Though he was surrounded by other pastors and leaders in the church, he was alone.
So, how many of us have friends who truly make us better together? How many of us are those kinds of friends who are able to speak honestly in any circumstance?