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A Tale of Two Texts: It Takes Two To Tango (and Forgive)

April 18th, 2010 by Thalia Kehoe Rowden

My Mum used to say to me and my sisters, whenever we were losing a fight and trying to get her to step in on our side, ‘it takes two to tango.’

She meant that it takes two to start a fight, so she wasn’t going to take sides.  I think Jesus would agree, and would go further.  I reckon Jesus might say ‘it takes two to tango’ meaning it takes two to patch things up, as well.

Today we were looking at Matthew 18:21-35, where Jesus talks about forgiveness.  But since we always look at chunks of Scripture in their context, we also reminded ourselves of what else Matthew put in chapter 18, including a few verses that are mentioned in our church Constitution: Matthew 18.15-17.

All of us who have committed to membership at West (and at many other churches) have committed to this as our approach to broken relationships: if you have a problem with someone, go to them and sort it out. Forgiveness is all very well, but it has to come as part of a two-person reconciliation process.  Don’t worry about struggling with forgiveness until you’ve started the hard, important work of problem solving like we see in Matthew 18.

If you have a problem with someone, go to them and sort it out.

It sounds basic, but man, it would revolutionise society if we all followed that principle!  Jesus calls us to be fixers, not whingers, to be people who never give up on each other, who bravely pursue reconciliation as a way of life.

If this sounds hard, or, as our current series title suggests ‘easier said than done’, I’d like to invite you to have another listen to the two-part sermon series we did in October 2008 on Matthew 18:15-17 (head to our ‘earlier sermons‘ page and scroll to numbers 40 and 39).  It’s full of practical advice about how to approach someone who has hurt you, and how to respond if you’re that other person.  If you’d prefer a written copy, just drop me an email.  And then enjoy your new-found freedom.

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