Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 30 : Go to Offenders | Day 209

Know When to Get Witnesses!

Both men were prominent individuals in their community and members of the same church, but they had not been on speaking terms for several years. One man was a business executive and the other was a builder. The businessman had hired the builder to put a large addition on his home. The builder had completed the work according to the plans that were agreed upon, but the businessman refused to pay him. The builder made several personal appeals to the businessman, but still the situation was not resolved. It was time to bring in a witness.

“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” (Matthew 18:16).

The builder had a valid, legal claim against the businessman; however, Scripture warns against taking fellow believers to court. (See I Corinthians 6:1-2.) In fact, God warns a believer who has a grievance and goes to court before unbelievers: “… 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" (I Corinthians 6:7-8).

How would the builder who had thousands of dollars wrongfully withheld from him be defrauding the businessman by taking the matter before a civil judge? The answer is that a civil court deals only with the financial aspects of the case. There are important spiritual matters that also need to be addressed, and that is the purpose for going to an offender with a Godly witness. While going to court may have allowed the builder to get the money he was owed, it would have failed to address the spiritual welfare of the businessman.

One purpose for witnesses is to make sure the principles of God's Word are properly applied in resolving a dispute.

A "witness" could be a person who saw the offense take place firsthand, or it could be someone who is known and respected by both parties and can work with them to resolve their differences.

I became involved as a witness to help resolve the dispute between the builder and the businessman when both of them wanted to join me in my youth work. Each man had told me his side of the story, so one evening I invited them both to my home to discuss the deeper spiritual issues that were at stake with their ongoing feud. By the end of our time together, each one had acknowledged the faults on his part and arrived at a compromise that was mutually acceptable.

Years ago, a wise friend helped me see an offender from a new perspective. I viewed the offender as a stubborn and unreasonable man whom I wanted to avoid, but my friend pointed out, "God does nothing by chance. He allowed that man to offend you to get your attention and to force you to focus on spiritual needs in your life and in his life."

We need to be attentive to the spiritual aspects of an offense and learn what God wants to teach us and the offender through it. Let's be committed to doing everything we can to resolve conflicts and recognize when a witness is needed.

“… If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone … ” (Matthew 18:15).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard