Ellen G. White Writings

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Homeward Bound, Page 254

Dealing With an Offender, August 17

I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.—Jeremiah 31:34.

If he will not hear them [see Matthew 18:15, 16], then, and not till then, the matter is to be brought before the whole body of believers. Let the members of the church, as the representatives of Christ, unite in prayer and loving entreaty that the offender may be restored. The Holy Spirit will speak through His servants, pleading with the wanderer to return to God. Paul the apostle, speaking by inspiration, says, “As though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20.) Anyone who rejects this united overture has broken the tie that binds him to Christ, and thus has severed himself from the fellowship of the church. Henceforth, said Jesus, “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” But he is not to be regarded as cut off from the mercy of God. Let him not be despised or neglected by his former brothers and sisters in the church, but be treated with tenderness and compassion, as one of the lost sheep that Christ is still seeking to bring to His fold.

Christ’s instruction as to the treatment of the erring repeats in more specific form the teaching given to Israel through Moses: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbor, that thou bear not sin for him.” (Leviticus 19:17, margin.) That is, if others neglect the duty Christ has enjoined, of trying to restore those who are in error and sin, they become partakers in the sin. For evils that we might have checked, we are just as responsible as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves.

But it is to the wrongdoer himself that we are to present the wrong. We are not to make it a matter of comment and criticism among ourselves; nor even after it is told to the church, are we at liberty to repeat it to others. A knowledge of the faults of Christians will be only a cause of stumbling to the unbelieving world; and by dwelling upon these things, we ourselves can receive only harm; for it is by beholding that we become changed. While we seek to correct the errors of others, the Spirit of Christ will lead us to shield them, as far as possible, from the criticism of even their own brethren, and how much more from the censure of the unbelieving world. We ourselves are erring, and need Christ’s pity and forgiveness, and just as we wish Him to deal with us, He bids us deal with one another.—The Desire of Ages, 441.

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