As I mentioned in a previous post, our community has gone through the hardship of church discipline. Postmodern communities battle with this part of Jesus' teachings.  Posted below is an extract of a study I prepared for Claypot on Jesus' teachings in Matthew 18.  This part explores where Jesus teaches us that,

“If your brother sins (against you), go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.

Why should we "GO" and point out the sin?

have been taught that when you point a finger at someone, three fingers point
back at you.  There is truth to
this statement.  Yet, there is also
something about this idiom that can create a kind of Christianity wherein we don’t help each other to become
more like Christ.

three fingers are pointing back to us, it doesn’t mean that the other finger
doesn’t have something pointing at! 
If we use this kind of thinking then we will simply not grow into people
who are becoming more like Jesus, we won’t address our three fingers and also
not the issue that the other one is pointing to.

intent of the idiom is to make one aware of the danger of a judgmental attitude
(judgmentalism).  It is not an
idiom designed to never “point out the fault” (judging). 

should remember that it is Jesus commanding us to “GO” and point out the
fault.  Some people have created a
picture of Jesus that is so loving and forgiving that they are scandalized to
even think that Jesus could be so ‘judging’.  They serve a different Jesus than the Jesus described in the

idiom about the fingers doesn’t exist in the Bible (although in the same
chapter Jesus talks about a striving against sin that goes so far as to cut of
your hands and feet and pluck out your eye – Matthew 18:8-9).

we do find is Jesus’ clear instructions in Matthew 7:1-5,

" “Do not judge, so that
you may not be judged.
For with
the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the
measure you get.
Why do you see the speck
in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the
speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
(Matthew 7:1-5, NRSV)

Craig Blomberg explains
these verses,

“Judge” (krino) can imply to analyze or evaluate as well as to
condemn or avenge.
The former senses
are clearly commanded of believers
(e.g., 1 Cor 5:5; 1 John 4:1), but the latter are reserved for God.  Even on those occasions when we render
a negative evaluation of others, our purposes should be constructive and not
retributive. So Jesus is here commanding his followers not to be characterized
by judgmental attitudes … But v.5 makes
clear that vv. 3-4 do not absolve us of responsibility to our brothers and
sisters in Christ.
once we have dealt with our own sins, we are then in a position gently and
lovingly to confront and try to restore others who have erred.”[1]

danger is that we buy into a “who am I to judge?” mentality because we are
unwilling to be shown our faults. 
We then use the “who am I to judge” language so that we can rationalize
our own sins.  We move from “who am
I to judge?” to “who are you to judge?” This attitude will not help us and
others grow into the image of Jesus. Jesus calls us to work on our log and then to take out the speck in your brother's eye.

when we go “to point out the fault” we should do it with humility and “speak
the truth in love (Eph 4:15)”.  The
best way to do this is to open your own life to the receiving end of Matthew
18:15[2].  We should all exercise our ability to
“listen” to others when they show us our fault(s).[3]

The acknowledgement that I am also a work in progress gives me the right
attitude to “GO” in humility (Galatians 6:1).  If I’m not willing to receive then I can easily become a
judgmental “go-er”.

the Psalms we read a prayer that shows openness towards people coming to me in
order to “show my faults”.

the prayer out loud and reflect whether you are open
to have people “GO” to you? – How does this prayer make you
feel?  What are you afraid of? What
possibilities do you see?

"Let the righteous strike
me; let the faithful correct me. Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my
for my prayer is
continually against their wicked deeds.
" (Psalm 141:5, NRSV)

we should beware of a judgmental attitude, it is severely irresponsible to not
“GO” and point out the fault of someone who sinned against you or who is
sinning in general.  This attitude,
though it seems loving, shows a disregard for a family member’s relationship
with God.  We have a responsibility
towards one another.  Already in
the Old Testament God challenges Israel’s tendency to just let someone be,

"You shall not hate in
your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will
incur guilt yourself.
" (Leviticus 19:17, NRSV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in
his book “Life Together”, touches on how our relationship with God and our
brothers and sisters cannot ignore the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.  Read the two quotes provided and write
your responses to them down,

is unavoidable. God’s Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin.  The practice of discipline in the
congregation begins in the smaller circles. Where defection from God’s Word in
doctrine or in life imperils the family fellowship and with it the whole
congregation, the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured.  Nothing can be more cruel than the
leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate
than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back
from the path of sin.

another Christian falls into obvious sin, an admonition is imperative, because
God’s Word demands it. The practice of discipline in the community of faith
begins with friends who are close to one another. Words of admonition and reproach
must be risked.”[4]

responsibility towards one another is one of the reasons why the Jesus life,
and specifically church life is such a radical departure from our culture.[5]  We are members of one another.  If we disregard this process in our
churches, then we’re becoming a club and not a community of people striving to
become more likes Jesus. Even if this idea sounds hectic to our postmodern
ears, it is the call of Jesus.[6]

Claypot, we engage in this mutual encouragement through our accountability
relationships.  These friendships
are places where we can encourage one another to “love and good works”(Hebrews
10:23).  If these relationships remain
shallow places of patting one another on the back, then we won’t be that
different than the social clubs in Johannesburg.

Craig Blomberg, “Matthew: The new American Commentary” – p.127,128

Thiselton asks, “If judgematalism breeds one type of complacency, and
overtolerance breeds another, how do we try to steer a safe course between the
two? When does a church become a social club for mutual entertainment and
self-affirmation” p.87

“The more we learn to allow others to speak the Word to us, to accept humbly
and gratefully even severe reproaches and admonitions, the more free and
objective will we be in speaking ourselves. The person whose touchiness and
vanity make him spurn a brother’s earnest censure cannot speak the truth in
humility to others; he is afraid of being rebuffed and of feeling that he has
been aggrieved.” Bonhoeffer, p.106

“Life Together”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p.107

[5] The world’s pattern is to look out
for oneself primarily, but all that we do within the community of faith will
impact everyone else. Thus, it should be a high value within the community to
develop a pattern of life in which all disciples are committed to living out
our responsibility to each other’s purity.
Wilkins, Michael J. “Bridging
Contexts” In NIV Application
Commentary, New Testament
: Matthew. By Michael J. Wilkins, 627. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, © 2004.

[6] Christians form a community, a real
community of sinful persons who have become attached to God through Christ and
in the Spirit, and their community is their new life. They must live
responsibly before God in freedom but with accountability to one another. Scot