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In preparing to talk about forgiveness, last time, we took a closer look at the first part of Matthew 18:1-14, and gleaned a few points:
1) In order to the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, we need to be converted as children.
—they are not puffed up or prideful
—they need to be served/taken care of
—they take you at your word
—they have amazing faith
2) Offenses (snares, traps, trap-sticks, stumbling blocks, temptations, entrapper, enticers, obstacles) WILL COME! Was anyone tested on that? Oooh-ooh WHEE. I KNOW I was! Had to deal with the ungrateful one, the rude one, the one not listening, technology acting up, a two-hour traffic jam, phone calls about things that should have been taken care of, people not on post…these things sound mundane, but these attacks came one after the other, were long (some of them) unexpected and intense. I was asking for grace and repenting—but once you know the Word and what to look out for, you really become more alert and able to fight in the Spirit in prayer and not in the flesh with unkind words, attitudes or gestures. God allows them to teach is to stay in the Spirit and not react in the flesh, the enemy brings them to get you out of Spirit and KEEP you in the flesh.
3)Jesus promises to deal with the offenders—it’s better that a millstone is hung around the neck and they cast into the sea. While we may be clapping for the impending punishment for the offenders, let’s keep two things in mind:
–Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbles: lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him (Proverbs 24:16).
–Let’s check ourselves to make sure we are not practicing offenders mentioned in Matthew 18. The onus is on US. Not THEM.
It’s one thing to mess up occasionally, but choosing to lie on someone, being the marital issue, to have a bad attitude because “you don’t care today”, intentionally, maliciously, willfully, spitefully doing, saying or acting or retaliating, in ways that offend someone (whether or not they “deserve it”) is just wrong. What is giving the guy that cut you off a dirty look going to do? How does that help anything? Will it have a lasting impression on him? Will he remember the look? Did it teach him a lesson? He’s in front of you.
We can’t practice maliciousness, wrath, hatred and such and expect to make it into the kingdom of God, even if you were offended badly. Jesus has that covered coming up in Matthew 18 starting at verse 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.
HOW many disagreements would be squashed if we just went to Lilly May and talked about it, rather than go all-around her? Do we GO TO the person and handle these matters quietly and one-on-one? Or is a snide post or rant on social media the way we do it? Or maybe we go to the one or two more first instead of going to the person? The story gets back to the person and it’s all blown up AND others are upset with them. Discord. Flesh. Offensive. Not God’s way. We simply go to the person, politely state our case, listen to their case, we talk it over and we end peacefully. If the one-to-one approach doesn’t pan out, Jesus outlines the next step.
Verse 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.
If the trespassing party is not cooperative, we are not to stomp away. Rather WE go the extra mile and gather honest, non-biased, trustworthy folks that can accurately account the dispute details/conversion, rather than instigate or spread your business around. Pray about and choose your witnesses carefully. Finally if that approach stalls, Jesus says:
Verse 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 very last resort—do not get the church officials involved until after you have done steps 1 and 2. Ideally, the alleged trespasser will finally be ready to settle the matter properly, so he’s not classified as a heathen or publican (tax collector). In those days (and some of say it now), publicans ILLEGALLY taxed you on whatever they wanted, ON DEMAND. Obviously they lived well (off ill-gotten money), but were very despised. In fact, Luke 19 tells the story of Zacchaeus who was CHIEF, among the publicans (19:2). After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus repented and said he would give half his goods to the poor and would restore overtaxation four fold. Talk about offenses and forgiveness…Let’s see what else Jesus said regarding the church proceeding. Yes, the next few verses of Matthew 18 are all about that.
Matthew 18:18 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.
Matthew 18:19 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.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In doing some study, verse 18 the term “binding and loosing” was common Jewish phrasing meaning “to declare something forbidden (bind) or declare it allowed (loosed)” In this case it referred to the discipline of the offender or how the situation would be handled. That ties into verse 19, because Christ in heaven officially makes valid what is done in His name and in accordance to His Word on earth. Decisions are binding in both places and the Word is loosed on earth for His purpose. Finally in verse 20, the context with touching and agreeing is for the purpose of two people coming together to settle differences and naturally Jesus is there in the midst.
Now many of us have heard these verses and used them (myself included), for praying binding and loosing “bad” things and loosing “good” things, praying about something with someone (touching and agreeing), or for poorly attended services (where two or three are gathered). As students of the Bible who seek to rightly divide the Word with the help of the Lord, we’ve been using those Scriptures out of context. Think about it–isn’t Jesus in the midst when we are alone? Does not He abide down on the inside of us, if we are Holy Ghost filled according to Acts 2:38? Why would that verse be about church attendance when He was just talking about how to handle a dispute? Jesus just doesn’t switch tracks like that, BCU family! Now that we know better, we will do better, with the help of the Lord. Amen? Amen!
Well BCU family, that’s our podcast for today–I trust the Word was enlightening and stirs up a change in your heart and spirit. Lord will, we’ll wrap up this series next time we’re together. Thank you for tuning in, commenting, subscribing and telling a friend! Until we’re together again, God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you and…#StayOnTheWall!