Read Matthew 18:15-35
Jesus made the church to be a viable entity in this world.
It is to work at the individual level.
It is to work in the small group.
It is to work as a larger body, the congregation.
It is to work as all who follow Jesus.
A brother or sister sins against you, what can you do? Speak to them directly. Elsewhere in the scripture we read to do this in love. With Jesus, it seems that everything is done with love so it did not need to be articulated here.
Talk to the brother or sister who has offended you. Reconcile.
If that doesn’t work, get a couple other believers to go with you. Remember, you are not ganging up on this believer who has sinned, you are employing the presence of Jesus who is present when 2 or 3 come together in his name.
If this person is set in his or her ways, at least you have some witnesses to take the matter to the congregation.
If the congregation has no influence on this person, give him or her the cold shoulder. Let them live as the pagans—those who live outside the body of Christ.
Paul would later say something similar about one who would not turn from evil ways. Paul said turn them over to Satan so that their soul might be saved on the Day of Judgment.
These actions are not punishment; they are tools. The hope of every believer must be the desire of God’s heart, that somehow, all will repent and come to know the love of God in Christ Jesus.
The church plays a vital role in not only taking good news to the world but discipling those who come to profess Jesus as Lord.
Sometimes we think the job is done when people come and profess their faith and are baptized. In actuality, that is when the real work begins.
Our salvation is a gift from God. He did it all. Jesus paid it all.
Our discipleship is our response to this unbelievable gift.
The church is the primary instrument of this discipleship.
And then we come to one of the most humbling parable’s in the Bible. It is the story of the unmerciful servant.
This servant is forgiven an incredible amount by his master. He should have been thrown in debtor’s prison until he paid off his debt or rotted. In this time, the family might also be imprisoned or even sold as slaves to pay the debt.
What a great thing to have hundreds f thousands, perhaps even millions, in debt just wiped off the books.
Then we see the story repeated on a much smaller scale. This same servant is owed a few dollars by another servant. This other servant begs for forgiveness but none is forth coming.
The servant who was forgiving wants his pound of flesh from his fellow servant.
Most of us think of this servant who was forgiven and yet will not forgive and are ready to shout, “What a bum. What a hypocrite. Hey, this guy got what he deserved in the end.”
But we won’t shout these things too long.
Because every one of us has been forgiven by God and yet has held onto a debt. We have something that we wouldn’t or won’t forgive.
We have lived the life of this unforgiving servant.
This is a self-preaching parable.
If we will be guided by the Spirit as we read these few words, we will have eyes to see how hypocritical we are sometimes.
Just when I think that I have forgiven everyone who has ever wronged me in this life, some past wrong pops into my mind wanting me to exact justice or vengeance.
Our sinful nature is looking for a chance to rear its ugly head whenever the opportunity presents itself.
We must remember how much we have been forgiven and live as forgiving people. This is for not only those who have sinned against us already, but for those who will do so in the future.
We must surrender completely to God and let him finish the work that he began in us. We must let him finish our forgiving nature, so that we have the same heart of love and mercy as our Father in heaven.
We must have the church to give us the accountability part of our discipleship and a heart of forgiveness to make our discipling complete.