Matthew 18. A look at Forgiveness.
|Matthew 18 : 21-22
The greatest difficulty we’ll often face in the Christian life isn’t with trials & temptations. It’s not with faith... or with doctrines & "truths" of the Word of God. But it is often with people... especially with brethren... those we assemble with... work with... fellowship with.
I think one of the most critical areas of relationship whether we are saved or unsaved, is the ability to forgive. The ability not to hold grudges or resentment to people in our orbit, people that we perceive have influence over our day to day existence.
If we are saved, we should have an advantage in the forgiveness arena, however through experience I have learned that this isn’t always true.
I believe this can handicap us if not dealt with in a proper way. Forgiveness is vital to healthy relationships and more importantly to our continued good health, physically and spiritually.
Mat 18: 21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
If you do the math, that’s 490 times. In Jewish Culture the Rabbi’s had established that you should forgive someone who wronged you three times in their lifetime. Peter thought he’d double it and be extra generous, throwing one more time on top.
Jesus responds by saying basically, you should always forgive. There is no limit.
It is here where the realities of our Christianity... our spirituality are put to the test. When I worked in law enforcement I was exposed to people in their worst condition, I saw things that everyday people do not see. This created a perception of how people were, but more importantly it drew a contrast between those I interacted with on the Job and off the Job.
It is the same with Christianity. When we get saved we should receive a revelation of right and wrong, we understand the reality of sin and its destructive power, the influence it can have in our life. It is a place where we see and know people as they are ... beyond the image they present ... beyond the assumptions we make. It is a view of raw humanity. It is also a place of great vulnerability. If we are not careful we can harbor grudges and slights, things people have done to us whether right or wrong can fester and rot in our heart and soul.
We cannot afford to hold on to these emotions and feelings. We need to deal with them and judge them. Then we need to act on them. There is a process where God has given us an avenue to be blessed when we deal in this arena of forgiveness.
“O to dwell above with the God we Love ... that would be glory;
But to dwell below with the people we know ... that's another story.”
Consider Context of Peter's Response (Full Chapter Matt 18)
Jesus is ministering, and he begins to address the issue of settling offenses. As he ministers he begins to address what the Kingdom of God is like. He addresses conversion, offending brethren and a parable about lost sheep. It is in the context of all these things that Jesus begins relating everything in the context of the power and dominion of our prayer. This whole conversation is Jesus responding to a question by the Disciples, on who is the greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus is bringing understanding in layers.
1. Jesus sets a child in their midst and speaks of conversion, salvation.
2. Jesus deals with offenses and warns the offender of his actions and the ‘offendee’ of the spiritual consequences of holding onto offences. There are several ‘woes’ in scripture, a word that means a dire warning of what is coming. One is here. Woe unto the world because of offences. Better to go to heaven with one eye than two into hell.
3. Jesus immediately transitions into he is here to save the lost.
Now here is something that I find interesting.
4. Jesus speaks of a brother who trespasses against another. He lays out a procedure to deal with the issue. It’s what happens after this that is important.
Matt 18:15-16 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. 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.
MATT 18:19-20 Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
5. Jesus speaks about where two or more agree Jesus is there in the midst of them. I believe this can apply to prayer, but I also believe its speaking directly about 2 brothers who have reconciled and have agreed together to let by gone be bygones. Forgiveness given and received, and there is Jesus in the midst of it.
But it’s after Jesus speaks about binding and loosing things here on earth and in heaven and the power of Prayer that Peter approaches Him.
Peter only seems to have heard "if your brother sins against you ..." his concern appears to be with a sense of personal injustice ... Peter has a problem ... maybe he’s attempting to be spiritual or probably trying to impress Jesus
** The primary concern appears to be the fault of another & the sin against "ME" ...
** He’s concerned with the limitations ... yet extends what was lawfully required ...
Like Many of Us ... we agree with the concept of forgiveness ... it's the Christian thing to do
** but we want to know to what extent... what degree... how much ... how long ... how often.
** we want to know what does it mean ... does it mean we continue to let people hurt us, abuse and use us?
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are to be abused by someone.
Luke 17: 3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
The problem we face is that we function on our own sense of fairness. Our own sense of justice. But this always limits us because of our natural and human reasoning. I believe that forgiveness is spiritual.
The Basis of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is always based on God's Forgiveness Towards Us
The reality is that God’s forgiveness towards us is absolute, our forgiveness towards others should also be absolute.
Word Count 962
"WdC 18th Birthday Prompt!"