Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:15 – 19:12
Today in our reading, we see several examples of how Jesus expects us to treat each other when “sin” or a disagreement happens in our relationships. We are shown here that we should be respectful, kind, quick to forgive, and merciful. We are also shown to uphold healthy boundaries and principles. This can be a tough balancing act for many of us.
Matthew 18: 15-17 –When a brother or sister sins
We see here that Jesus instructs us to first approach our fellow brother/sister privately. If they listen to you, that is as far as it needs to go. This is showing respect to that person and the sensitivity of the matter. If they continue in their sin, then you are to take one or two others with you to discuss with them. This is still showing respect and kindness, however now we are bringing in a couple of others to agree to pointing out the sin or fault in hopes that the person will stop whatever it is they are doing. If they continue to do the wrong thing, you then take it before the church. This is a more severe way to try and hold someone accountable by exposing their sin.
Notice that we aren’t going straight to the last step. We are to be gentle, yet firm. We give that person an opportunity for change before the more severe action is taken. This is an example of grace. We also see where the boundary is laid and that we do not allow our brother or sister to continue in their sin and pretend it is OK.
Matthew 18: 21-35 – The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Here we see Peter asking Jesus how many times we are to forgive someone who has wronged him. Peter, like many of us, is looking at this question through the eyes of the world and not through the eyes of Jesus.
Jesus then tells us a parable of a servant who owed the king a lot of money. More than he could ever pay back in his lifetime. So the king ordered that the servant, his wife, his children, and everything he possessed be sold in order to repay the debt. But then the servant cried out in desperation. The king showed him mercy and forgave the debt altogether!
Later on the same servant came across a man that owed him money. Instead of showing mercy and kindness towards him, he had him thrown in jail. When hearing of this, the king became very angry with the servant whom he forgave saying “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” He then punished the servant severely.
Who are we to put limits on forgiveness and mercy? I for one, am so thankful that God does not count the times he shows me grace, forgiveness, and mercy!
Matthew 19: 1-12 – Concerning Divorce
The Pharisees approach Jesus here asking if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus responds by reciting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 which pretty much explains why when you make the commitment of marriage, you should not divorce. They then ask him if that is so, “why did Moses say that a man can simply write a certificate of divorce and send his wife away?”
Jesus responds beautifully here in telling them that Moses permitted this because of the hardness in their hearts, but that this was never the way God intended. When you make a commitment to someone in marriage, you should make every effort possible to stay together. We should be slow to anger, forgiving, compassionate and loving to our spouse.
In our culture today we see the opposite of what Jesus is teaching us. People treat each other with disrespect, anger, and hatred. We hold grudges and have nothing to do with people who have wronged us in the past. For others, there seem to be no boundaries at all. Anything goes – as long as it doesn’t affect me. Marriage commitments are not taken seriously.
Jesus teaches us how to be balanced and mature in our thought processes and ways that we treat each other. I am thankful that He shows us a better way to live and to be. I pray today that we all put aside the darkness in our hearts when we respond the way the world does. That we would strive to live and treat each other as Jesus has instructed us to.