What If He Refuses to Listen? (Matthew 18:15-17)

Last week we discussed the first part of Jesus’ process for reconciliation (Matthew 18:15). Today we shall learn what to do if the other person refuses to listen to our concerns. If he refuses to listen to us, we must take one or two other mature Christians to help establish the charges (18:16).  If he still refuses to listen, we must take it before the church (18:17).  If he refuses to listen to the church, we should treat him as an unbeliever (18:17). Jesus’ process for reconciliation is very important because it tests the genuineness of the faith one professes. In this sermon, we will consider what might cause someone to refuse to listen:

  1. It may be pride. His pride may be keeping him from listening. If he is a Christian, Jesus’ process for reconciliation will expose his pride and produce humility in him. We must be willing to be instruments in Jesus’ hands to show him that “pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).
  2. He may be blind. He may have become so blind to his own sin that he refuses to listen. If he is a Christian, Jesus’ process for reconciliation will open his eyes to his sin. He may see that he has “an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God” (Heb 3:12) and “is hardened by sins deception” (Heb 3:13).
  3. He may be lost. Also, his refusal to listen may be because he is not a Christian. He may have made a profession of faith without possession of faith. Jesus’ process for reconciliation is important because it leads to a Christian’s repentance and a hypocrite’s rejection. The Holy Spirit works through the steps outlined in Matthew 18 to test the genuineness of one’s profession of faith.  The reason why we are told to treat the one who refuses to repent as an unbeliever (18:17) is because he most likely is. His refusal to repent of his sin is troubling and must not be overlooked.  What does it mean if a person refuses to repent? Consider that he:
    1. Does not understand forgiveness. Someone who has been forgiven by Jesus knows the power of forgiveness and is eager to pass it on. Our model for forgiving others is the forgiveness that comes from Jesus and a non-Christian does not understand it.
    2. Does not understand love. “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Someone who does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior does not understand true love. They have settled for a false love of self and refuse to listen to correction.
    3. Does not know Jesus. Sadly, a person can attend church services and be lost. Anyone who refuses to listen and repent is acting like they are not a Christian.  We must love them enough to hold them accountable to be obedient to Christ’s commands.

Let us commit ourselves to following Jesus’ process for reconciliation because we love God and others.