The disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” The Lord responded with a commendation of lowliness: “Whoever humbles himself” is the one who is considered to be on the very best pathway. In contrast, the arrogance of stubborn pride is an enemy of a life-giving faith and leads to all kinds of serious troubles that hurt God’s children.
Those who wander from the safety of a close relationship with the Almighty will end up in danger. Such dear ones need to be lovingly disciplined before they hurt themselves and those around them. Tempters will try to move even the Lord’s followers in a bad direction for their own evil purposes, but God is able to bring all His children home again with rejoicing.
The church of Jesus Christ must have the same mind as our Master concerning both sin and forgiveness. We certainly must never minimize offenses against the great I-AM, but we also passionately desire the restoration of every offender and are willing to take actions that could lead to reconciliation. The process that God gives His people in Matthew 18:15-17 is a necessity for any church that cares for troubled souls.
Unforgiveness can never be the Christian response to situations of even weighty and repetitive offenses. The King of kings has pardoned the unfathomable debt we brought upon ourselves by our willful violation of His righteous standards. How can we then hold a grudge against others who have wronged us?
Only God can make the necessary change within our hearts to move us from our old spiritual and relational self-preoccupation to a new life consistent with the kingdom. When we become a community of people that will sacrificially love our enemies, we show that we are beginning to understand what the Lord Jesus has done for us.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Lord, help us to be like children in every appropriate way, that we might know what it is to walk by faith in Your kingdom. We turn away from all wickedness. We lift up the most vulnerable in our midst, and pray that You would lead them in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. Teach us to be wise in dealing with offenses, and restore those who repent. Fill Your church with extravagant forgiveness, for we have been released from a massive debt. Our sin against You was a burden that we could never bear. We have experienced a new life with You only because of Your merciful grace. Will we now treat others as if peace comes by Law? We will truly extend mercy to one another from our hearts even now, for we have been invited into Your family through the kindness of Your Son.