Christian morals



22. How should a believer behave in case of conflict with another believer, whether he is right or not, and even if he is partially wrong and partially right? What does the Scripture, the only rule of conduct, have to say about this? What are the causes of the conflicts among the brethren? How do the conflicts develop and how can we overcome and resolve them brotherly, peacefully and happily?




If a believer is wronged by another believer, he must rebuke the one who does wrong because this is what Jesus taught when He said: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him” (Luke 17:3 – NKJV), and again: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15 – NKJV). If the brother who has sinned repents, then he who was wronged must forgive him, as it is written: “If he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3 – NKJV). In this case, the brother who sinned will be gained, as it is written: “If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15 – NKJV). At this point, I would like to point out that to forgive the brother who has sinned is a command, and that if he who acknowledges his sins is not forgiven, he who refuses to forgive will bear his guilt, that is, he will put himself in the wrong and thus God will punish him. Jesus spoke the following parable to teach what will happen to us if we don’t forgive our brother: “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:23-35). On another occasion Jesus said: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

But if he who did wrong does not acknowledge his sin and refuses to repent of it, then the believer who was wronged (who is right) must act in this way: “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:16-18). As you can see, a brother must be considered a sinner (or a pagan) after he has refused to hear both the witnesses and the church.

Therefore, when a believer sins against another believer, he must repent and ask his pardon; in other words, he ought to be reconciled to his brother. When Jesus said: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24), He spoke of those who need to be reconciled to their brothers.

Let us look now at the case in which a believer is both wrong and right; for instance, a believer is wronged and reacts not only by getting angry but also by speaking some bad words or by doing a bad gesture against the brother who wronged him. According to the Scripture, he also is wrong for it is written: “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 – NKJV). As you can see, it is lawful to be angry, but it is not lawful to sin. So in the case I have just mentioned, the brother who was wronged puts himself in the wrong and thus he must humble himself and acknowledge that he also has sinned against his brother.

Why do quarrels arise among brothers sometimes? The causes are various: ignorance, pride, haste and so on. Nevertheless they can be resolved peacefully if we obey the Word of God.

In conclusion, I want to say this: when quarrels arise among brothers, the brother who is right must not go to law before the unrighteous, that is, he must not take the dispute before the ungodly for judgement, because such a behaviour is wrong and is condemned by God. The apostle Paul rebuked some believers of the Church in Corinth because they took their disputes before the ungodly for judgement; here are his words: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-10). In this case also, therefore, the brother who was wronged puts himself in the wrong because he takes the dispute before the ungodly for judgement.

I conclude my answer with these words: ‘Let us take heed to ourselves.’