Treat him like you would a tax collector

“If a brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens, you have won your brother back.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you so that every word may be verified by two or three witnesses.  If he ignores these witnesses, tell it to the church. If he also ignores the church, then treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15)

The obvious question here – which I never once thought about until recently is, “How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?”  Hmm….

Today I return to Maryland for two days before flying to Hungary on Friday to teach in the School of Worship at YWAM Budapest.

The fellowship of believers here in Florence is becoming more beautiful by the day.  I seriously hate to leave such rich conversations and affectionate friendships.

12 thoughts on “Treat him like you would a tax collector”

  1. Bless you,Don. I want so much for you because you have blessed me so !! I confess that I often ask the Lord to send you a life partner, can’t really understand why you are single, but I know God always has ‘the best’ in store for you.I just cannot imagine that it doesn’t include a wife !! Did you know that Bruce Olson a sin gle missionary to Aucas has finally found a wife and ready made family? Maybe that’s why I want something like that for you. Forgive my boldness, just don’t like to imagine you feeling lonely. Much-much love and prayers and smiles-Janet


  2. I have had to grapple with this issue when years ago, a friend of ours, a devout Christian, embraced an identity of being homosexual. This dear friend really believed that God affirmed the choice that was made to live that lifestyle, and felt no conviction that it was wrong in light God’s will revealed in the Scriptures. My wife and I felt a deep love and concern fro our friend. We made a choice to relate to our friend in light of Jesus words to treat them as we would a tax collector. That meant to us that we would love them, pray for them, reach out to them, speak the truth to them, but NOT affirm them in a lifestyle we believed to be contrary to God’s will. Our culture hates the word sin, and shuns the passages from the bible like the one you referenced here because of a fear of being judgmental. But we also need to realize that given the right (or wrong) circumstances, all of us are vulnerable to being deceived by the enemy, and it is our brothers and sisters who are bold enough and caring enough to speak the truth to us in love that may be our only hope of breaking free from deception and being able to see where we have gone astray from walking in God’s ways. Any correction that must be brought to a brother or sister must be done out of love for the Lord, and a genuine love for our brother or sister who is straying. I would only hope that God would bless me with such people in my life whenever I wander or go astray from the Truth. Jesus is our shepherd, and in His wisdom He has chosen to use our brothers and sisters as his helpers. It takes humility to receive correction, and certainly takes humility to give it in the right spirit as well! I would love to hear stories of how others have dealt with this issue as well.


  3. To be homosexual is not a sin. That is a cross of that person. Homosexual act is a sin, just like many heterosexual perversion acts. If person can control himself, lives and follows God’s rules of life, than he doesn’t live in a sin. People started to watching world around them with genitals instead of eyes, heart and brain. Somehow we becoming intellectual animals. It is obvious and that’s something which separating us from God. Jesus took his cross and show us an example. Apostles and first Christians took their own crosses and followed Him. Why we are not able to be humble and take our own crosses. What we are doing is talking, talking and talking… judging others and trying to make equal our rules and God’s rules. We are becoming gods in our own eyes. Can we really call ourselves a Christians ?

    PS: I am so sorry because of my bad english, but I hope that you will understand what I tried to say.


  4. Bless you, Petroromanus! In a few words, you have expressed the truth of God’s Word and the reality of men’s hearts. How far we have strayed from God’s plans for us. May we LONG to return to the Father’s arms and become all He’s created us to be!


  5. When we take up the cross, we leave sin behind. It was left at the cross where Jesus bore our sins with His payment of dying on it for us…and nothing can seperate us from the love of God and His forgiveness. We don’t drag it around with us…because when he died there so did we with Him, when He rose in victory, so did we with Him. We are free!!!!!


  6. To be free we need to be humble and take our cross. Sometimes it is too hard for us and we trying to improvise. It is easy to say ” I believe in Him ” and then when it’s time to show that, we starting to judge others and pretending that we are superior human beings. We should not be superior we should be humble. We should not judge others or reject them just because they are different. We should try to understand them and help them, if they need help. We are living in theory very often. Christianity is not a theory and Jesus had never been just a philosopher. Jesus is God and Christianity is way of life. We should live that life and believe. People should see that we are Christians through what we are, not just through what we talk.
    I am talking this because I met ” Christians ” who are thinking on this way: ” I believe in Jesus, so I can do whatever I want and He will forgive me. I can lie, I can manipulate, I can cheat, I can hurt others… ”. It is wrong. This is not Christianity it is hypocrisy. To be Christians we need to be humble. It is very hard, but with His help we can make it.

    God bless you all


  7. Hey Don Jesus did not say treat them as I would a tax collector but “as you would”. The difference was the issue was a brother that was not acting like it vs a nieve legitimate tax collector. Follow up with Cor passage about what Paul said do with the man that was living with his Fathers wife. He said “throw him out”. Now that throwing has a dual purpose: to preserve the churches testimony and to allow Satan to destroy thie fellows flesh.


  8. You guys are both right. We are called to love the sinner but hate the sin, while walking in humility. God’s love is the greatest force for change in the universe, and true humility is the vessel for that love. We are called to be witnesses of THE TRUTH, as well as prayer warriors and prophetic watchmen on the wall. God’s love is unconditional, but His promises are conditional, so if we truly love someone we will tell them the TRUTH as presented in God’s Word, set boundaries for them and hold them accountable. This is why we need each other, that we might help one another out of the “ditches” of sin we sometimes fall into. Love lifts us up, dusts us off and encourages us to “press on toward the prize”. It doesn’t constantly remind us how many times we’ve already fallen; it exhorts us to get our eyes back on Jesus, who’s already removed our sin “as far as the East is from the West” and who walks with us every step of the way Home.
    When I became a Christian in 1976, I chose Philippians 3:12 (from The Living Bible) as my life verse: “I don’t mean to say I am perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be.”
    I’m still working, walking and wanting to be changed by the Father, who daily invites me deeper into His heart…


  9. I love the way we’re able to converse about this without being accusatory and off-putting. (I think that makes Jesus happy, and that I have some amazing, generous and insightful friends.)

    I, too, think all these points are valid. Of course we need to recognize and confront sin. But even so we must yield to the same vivid tenderness of the Holy Spirit that we see in Jesus.


  10. Good question: How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors. I have this discussion with a dear friend right now who has been deeply, I say again, deeply offended and is justified in treating another unrepentant believer as a pagan or tax collector. He has actually been advised by his counselor to do so without qualification. His response is to take full license to treat his offender poorly.

    As I read further in Matthew 18 to verse 18 I see the caution about what we bind on earth will be bound in heaven and I’m drawn to Romans 2:4 that talks of God’s kindness leading toward repentance. Yes, I do believe that is the way and am further convinced by Romans 12:17-21 that stopping at Matthew 18:17 alone is not beneficial to anyone least of all our Lord and Savior.


  11. I’ve always been puzzled by this verse. And I still am. I realized that many times, it is not as clear cut as we’d like it to be. That loving well – which I’ve always believed included confronting sin in a gentle, humble manner, and at an appropriate time – is not very easy to do, and we often do it very badly. Therefore, often times we end up hurting the other person deeply – but, all in the name of Christian love, and in obedience God’s commands, we say. I myself have used verses like these to justify calling people on their sins. But, I fail to recognize that Jesus also calls each of us to examine the log in our own eyes. If we’re not humbly repenting of our own sins, and living in repentance as a way of life – then I think we should be very careful to examine others’ sins, and declare our “stand” on their sins (and, honestly, I don’t think “having a stand” for truth’s sake is the primary issue here).

    Also, I’d like to point out that in this verse, Jesus is saying if a brother “has sinned against YOU…” then, this is what you do. Why is that?


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