How are sinners supposed to live together in unity? Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 18:15-20. This passage which has been referenced as “church discipline, is perhaps better identified as the restoration principle. The point of this passage is to help us understand how we encourage each other to remain faithful to the Lord, and what is the process by which we maintain the purity of the Church. Restoration from sin is the corollary of evangelism. Restoration deals with sin in the lives of those who have made professions of faith. Evangelism is the initial act of discipleship, whereas the restoration principle is part of the follow-up and shepherding of professing saints. This passage outlines four basic steps to achieve correction and restoration in the lives of believers. Allow me to share the first today, and develop the other three in the days to follow. First, is Private Reproof, found in Matthew 18:15. Here we see that the offended believer is responsible to arrange a PRIVATE meeting and share with the offender what sin they have committed. The word for “reprove” in this passage means “to bring to light”. Often people do not realize that they are caught up in sin, or that they have sinned against or offended another person. This meeting is to work through the issue so that it does not spread or manifest itself in other ways. If the offender responds to the words of the one coming to them, they can be reconciled and move forward with their relationship. Why does something that sounds so easy, seem so hard? It is because we do not often like to confront,, that is why this process must be bathed with prayer, with the reminder of how I myself have failed in the past. As we go to talk with another, we must also be open to the possibility that I have misunderstood the the words, or actions, and again it can be easily resolved. Rather than stewing over what has happened go to the one who has offended you, trusting that they will respond in humility, and in so doing you have gained a deeper relationship. What am I supposed to do if they don’t respond correctly, join me tomorrow as we look at principle number two.