We will start in Matthew 18, approximately 7 days before the triumphal entry. There is a lot of good teaching going on here. I am not going to share all of it, just what I see are the highlights of His teaching in this chapter.
1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Be converted and become as children! What does that mean? Well, exactly what it says. What are children like? Inquisitive, always wanting to learn more, look at things for the first time, getting into trouble (trials) and learning from them. As Christians, we should always be inquisitive for God’s word, rightly dividing the truth. We should be hungry for the word. We should learn to look at the word with new eyes, as if we hadn’t read it before, and take it for what it says, and we should learn every time from the trials and troubles that come our way. Then if we see others going through this process, we should do all we can not to offend them, but to live peaceable with all men.
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 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. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
This is the process Jesus established for us to settle grievances within the church. We know it is within the church because He eventually says we should take it to the church, and we could not do that with an unbeliever. But we can practice the first two steps with an unbeliever and hopefully win back their friendship.
Unfortunately, we do not do this. We tend to take our problem to everyone else except the person we have offended, or who has offended us. We get other people stirred up about that person. We start the rumor mills going. And then we wonder why things get out of control. Once we start this patter, it is hard to stop. Eventually bitterness sets in, and that is like cancer to your soul. Hebrews 12:15 says “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you” I think I will follow that advise. if you are caught up in something like this, take care of it today. Go to that person and ask their forgiveness. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
These are probably three of the most quoted scriptures in Matthew. If we bind something on earth, we bind it in heaven, and if we loose it on earth, we loose it in heaven. Of course, he is taking about Godly principles being loosed – we can’t loose the devil or evil in heaven! But we can bind the spirit of heaviness and loose the spirit of freedom. We can bind the spirit of sickness and loose the spirit of healing. We can bind the spirit of poverty and loose the spirit of plenty. The list is endless. Bind up that which is against God’s law and loose that which is part of God’s law. Simple and effective in our prayer life, especially when combined with the next two verses! If two shall agree, it shall be done because if two or more are gathered in His name, He is in the middle of that prayer. Actually, He is there for just us as well, but there is power in agreement.
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
I think we all know this, but it is worth repeating. We never stop forgiving! God forgives us every time we come to Him because of His mercy. Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7) And “if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6:15) I think I will always do my best to forgive! I know want to be forgiven by the Father!
The last parable is a long on, and II am not going to put the whole thing into this blog. it runs from Matt 18:23 through the end of the chapter. In short, it talks of a King who, after accusing a man of not repaying a huge sum of money and sentencing him to repay every penny in indentured servitude, ends up forgiving that debt after the man pleaded on his mercy. Then that same man goes out and threatens a man who owed him a few dollars. the King hears of this and reinstates the original penalty.
This parable speaks to the fact that God has forgiven us a huge debt, yet we go out and do not give forgiveness when it is warranted. According to Jesus, it is not a matter of whose fault it is – we should always be the one to ask forgiveness, whether we have offended someone (Matt 5:24), or if someone has offended us (Matt 18:15-17 – see above). As to the latter, I heard a saying which have adopted in my life. “If I feel offended, what miserable piece of flesh is left in me that I should be able to be offended?” We are supposed to be dead to the flesh and alive in Christ (Rom 8:10, Rom 2:20). We should not get offended. And, to to[p that off, if we walk in the love we are supposed to, we will never offend others! (1 Cor 13:5) There is way to much offending going on in the church and out. Let’s have no part in it!