Matthew 18 A Caring Community

        Mathew 18:6-7,10-22        November 4 2007   

    As the gospel of Matthew reveals , Jesus was anticipating
    some of the issues that would arise in the church in years
    and even centuries to come. He knew well we would have
    the tendency to be at odds with one another, and He also
    had taught that our love for one another would be one of
    our most effective evangelistic tools. In (Matt.18:15-20),
    therefore, Jesus provided direction for handling disputes
    among members. The goal is always reconciliation and
    restoration of the wayward member.
    Forgiveness is one of the greatest challenges we face, and
    usually we conveniently overlook the fact that God has
    forgiven us repeatedly and endlessly. Jesus provided clear
    direction on the extent of our willingness to forgive.
    The parable of the unforgiving slave is a mirror reflection
    of our willingness to receive God’s extravagant forgiveness
    and then to be stingy with our readiness to forgive one
    another. No offense we suffer is anywhere near as serious
    as the sin we have committed and for which Christ died on
    a cross. Forgiveness is a Christian mandate, albeit a very
    difficult one.

    1. Caring Through Influence (Matt. 18:6-7)

Matt. 18:6   But if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large
millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths
of the sea. 18:7   “Woe to the world because of the things that
cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man
through whom they come!

    These little ones could refer to the children mentioned in
    (Matt. 18:3). However , it probably refers to adult believers
    who tend to be overlooked or deprived. The inclusion of
    who believe in me lends support to this second views. That
    these little ones appears so close to passages concerning
    forgiveness and reconciliation also tends to support the view
    these are other adult believers. the point is these are people
    over whom we have influence of some kind.
    Large Millstone . “a millstone of a donkey,”  a millstone
    turned by a donkey —far larger and heavier than the small
    millstones (Matt.24:41) used by women each morning in
    their homes.

    2. Caring Through Attention (Matt. 18:10-14)

Matt. 18:10   “See that you do not look down on one of these
little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see
the face of my Father in heaven. 18:11 For the Son of Man has
come to save the lost.18:12   “What do you think? If a man owns
a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not
leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that
wandered off? 18:13   And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he
is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that
did not wander off. 18:14   In the same way your Father in heaven
is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

    Their Angles. Guardian angels not exclusively for children,
    but for God’s people in general (Psalms 34:7; 91:11; Heb 1:14).
    We sometimes categorize people as beyond hope, and we may
    even turn our backs on them. Before we walk away from them,
    however, we should remember Jesus came specifically for
    these people.
    The question what do you think? is phrased to expect a
    positive response. That is , on the parable of the sheep that
    went astray, we should expect the shepherd to go and recover
    it. Typically, several99 sheep on the hillside safely while he
    looked for the lost one.
    (Luke 15:3-7) has a similar parable, and there the straying
    sheep is used to describe a non-Christian. Here we probably
    should understand the one sheep as representing a church
    member who has strayed in someway. That would mean
    Jesus was emphasizing the church is to be a community
    of intimacy and love in which the lose of one is felt by all.

    3. Caring Through Reconciliation (Matt. 18:15-20)

Matt. 18:15   “If your brother sins against you, go and show him
his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you
have won your brother over. 18:16   But if he will not listen,
take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be
established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 18:17  
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he
refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a
pagan or a tax collector. 18:18   “I tell you the truth, whatever
you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you
loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 18:19   “Again, I tell
you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask
for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 18:20   For
where two or three come together in my name, there am I
with them.”

    Brother. A fellow believer. Church. The local congregation.
    Here and 16:18 are the only two places where the Gospels
    speak of the “church.” Pagan. For the Jews this meant any
    Gentile. Tax Collector. (Matt.5:46). This verse establishes
    one basis for excommunication (Matt.16:19).
    At the outset we should underscore this can be overdone,
    and some matters that would quietly heal might be made
    worse by confrontation. The key is to always act with grace
    and seek to quietly mend strained relationships.
    The first step if your brother sins against you is to go and
    rebuke him in private. Two matters are important here. First,
    the offended party is to take the initiative. Second, this step
    involves confrontation and is fraught with great potential
    for ether abuse or misunderstanding. We are likely to be
    met with" I have done nothing to sin against you!" Or , "You are
    the one who deserves rebukes!" For this reason, we should be
    very careful as we take this course of action.
    These verses are to be interpreted in context of restoring
    a straying church member. The promise in Matt.18:19 is not a
    "blank check" for any request. On many occasions two . . .on
    earth agree about a matter and yet their request is unfulfilled.
    Instead, these verses affirm church’s effort to restore a
    fallen member, and they reflect heaven’s joyful participation
    in such an effort.( Matt. 18:20) also promises, however, a
    special sense of Christ’s presence in the midst of two or
    three who are gathered in My name , that is, those who
    reflect the nature and will of Christ.
    4. Caring Through Forgiveness (Matt. 18:21-22)

Matt. 18:21   Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how
many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?
Up to seven times?” 18:22   Jesus answered, “I tell you, not
seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    Forgiveness does not necessarily mean a relationship will
    be restored and you will want to go on vacation or even
    eat a meal with offender. When we genuinely forgive, we
    treat the offense as inconsequential, desire good for the
    person, and then leave the matter in God hands. Our
    forgiveness is not as deep or complete as God’s and can be
    rather messy at time . We still may have hard feelings,
    especially if the offense was great; but forgiveness invites
    mercy more deeply into our lives and allows grace to pool
    in our wounds.
    Seventy-seven Times. Times without number .

            Does this system work? We may have an example
of Paul’s rebuke in 1 Cor. 5:1-5 and the resulting repentance
    and restoration of the wayward member in (2Cor. 2:5-11).
    If we approach such a matter sensitively and graciously, and
    do not overuse it, then we might improve our witness and
    the quality of our fellowship.