Text: Matthew 18.17
If, after you’ve done all you can to restore a broken relationship—one-one-one, bringing an additional voice, and going to the church—it remains fractured, there’s one last step we need to take: treat that person “like a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18.17). This is definitely something we need help understanding!
By virtue of their occupation, tax collectors (for the hated Roman Empire) had separated themselves from the Jewish community. In essence, they were saying, “I don’t care who I hurt and I don’t care how my actions affect others.” To treat someone “as a tax collector” is to treat them as someone who has no interest in remaining part of the community—with compassion, but at a distance. The thinking is that the distance created will lead to a heart of repentance and, through God’s grace, movement back to him.
This final step, as with all of these we’ve talked about this week, requires great care and wisdom. Done incorrectly (and sometimes even when done correctly), they can result in great damage. Before beginning this process, take the time to speak with a pastor or other church leader. We want to help you reconcile well. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you take the next step.