Matthew 18:15-20 – If someone sins against you, then you are responsible for going to them to explain how they’ve hurt you and seek reconciliation.
Matthew 5:23 – If you have sinned against someone, then you are responsible for going to them seeking reconciliation.
I can’t help but notice that we are personally responsible for all of our relationships – even if someone has wronged us. No matter who has sinned – we are personally responsible. If we as Christians would practice this, we’d have both parties coming to each other simultaneously seeking reconciliation. Does that ever happen? I’d say it’s pretty rare – most of the time at least one of the parties wants to hold a grudge or be bitter about it all. Have you ever heard anyone say that so and so didn’t handle this or that biblically ’cause they didn’t come to me about it. According to these Scriptures, the person saying that is just as much in the wrong. The one instance I’m not sure about is this – what if you know someone has a problem with you – there is broken relationship, and they are accusing you falsely. If they don’t come to us (which doesn’t happen very often) then are we responsible to go to them? When we haven’t sinned?
Romans 14 talks about this stuff too. Verse 13 says, “Don’t put any stumbling block in your brothers way.” It’s critical to realize that this is talking about “stumbling” in regards to their relationship with Christ. It doesn’t apply to someone being offended that you wore jeans to church. In issues of preference, we are to accept one another without passing judgment (14:1) and yet still lovingly defend our own position (14:16) – always remembering to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (14:19)
It’s interesting to me that we are each responsible for maintaining good relationships in regards to sin and hurting one another (which has to do with division in the body), but in other areas we are instructed to live lovingly an humbly in the tension of different viewpoints and preferences. It makes complete sense really – it’s all about priorities and keeping the main thing the main thing.