Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kingdom Lessons from Matthew 18

The way of the Kingdom of God is so opposite of what my flesh chooses on its own.

If someone hurts me, even just some tiny, hurtful comment, I quickly fly to defend myself and hurt back if I can. 

But this is not His way.

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—
work it out between the two of you. 
If he listens, you've made a friend. 
If he won't listen, take one or two others along
so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest,
and try again.
If he still won't listen, tell the church.
If he won't listen to the church,
you'll have to start over from scratch,
confront him with the need for repentance,
and offer again God's forgiving love."
Matthew 18:15-17

This whole chapter seems to be a pattern for us.

Is the order of these verses and that they are all together important? 

Do they give more insight into living the way of the Kingdom?

It is not about us being right.

It is not about condemnation, penance, punishment.

It is about concern for another.

It is about patience.

It is about mercy.

It is about forgiveness.

When a fellow believer has hurt us, 
we go to her, talk with her, 
give her many chances to see her sin and repent.
Right after those verses, 
Jesus talks about the importance of our words
and how powerful it is for us to get together
with another believer and agree in prayer.

Should we be praying for the believer who hurt us? 
(No gossip, no hurtful chatter...)

Immediately following this is Peter's question
about how many times we are to forgive.

Jesus rounds out His answer by telling the Kingdom story
about forgiveness. What happens to the servant who
was forgive much who refuses to forgive in return?

Forgive, for we have been forgiven all.

"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant!
I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy.
Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to
your fellow servant who asked for mercy?"
Matthew 18:32

Kingdom living does not come from ourselves.

Forgiveness is not always easy and is not always what we want to do.

It at times is an act of sheer obedience.

Work hard to show the results of your salvation,
obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire
and the power to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:12-13 NLT

Be honest before the Lord.

Ask Him to give you the desire and the power to forgive.

He wants us to follow Him, rely on Him, take the yoke He gives us to bear.

He will not leave us alone, to do His way on our own.

He who has forgiven much will help us to forgive as well.

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