Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom of God? 18:1-14.
(Read Matt 18:1-14)
There was a dispute among the disciples over who is the greatest in the kingdom of God. So Jesus called a child in their midst and said “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. To become like little children means to be born again by faith in humility. They should depend on God just as children depend on their parents. Children are powerless and cared by their parents. Faith is more than mental assent of some doctrines. It is trusting in the promises of God and living in obedience to His word. Receiving believers is equal to welcoming Christ himself. Jesus said "If anyone who offends the little one, it would be better for him to have fastened a millstone around his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea". We offend others when we are selfish and proud. God will not tolerate the abuse of power in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a place where the powerless are cared for (Matt 18:6-10). We must not despise the weak believers. Salvation is purely by God's mercy. It is our privilege to share the gospel with others. Here the little sheep is a reference to lost souls. God does not want anyone to perish but that everyone to be saved. Our great commission is to evangelize and make disciples. Sad to say these days evangelism has taken a back seat among Christians. Pray that God would give you burden for souls to reach them with the gospel.
The Church Discipline: 18:15-20.
(Read Matt 18:15-20)
This passage illustrates Christ's desire how to restore a sinning believer to the church. Christians are not without sin. They are weak and prone to offend others. We must help those who struggle in the area of sin. We must be willing to humbly help others see the sin that is damaging their lives, families or church. Our goal is to gain the brother in the end and not condemn him (Matt 18: 15). First, we must personally express the point of offense to him in person. We must do this in a humble spirit. If the brother does listen and apologize, we have gained the brother. The second step is to be taken only if he refuses to repent. Then you should take one or two witnesses with you, that the offense may be established (Deuteronomy 19:15). If he refuses to listen again, then the third step becomes necessary. Take this case to the church. If he refuses to listen the church, let him be to the Church as a Gentile and a tax collector. He should be cut off from church fellowship (1 Cor 5:4-5; 1 Tim 1:20; Matt 18:19-20). The excommunication of a sinning believer is done with much sorrow and impartiality. This action is taken on the authority of Christ and his word. If the believer repents, the church should welcome him to fellowship. We should never forget what God has done for us on the cross. The action taken on others must be to gain them and our motive should be love. The Christian life is not intended to be a life in isolation but a life of fellowship with the church family.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: 18:21-35.
(Read Matt 18:21-35)
In the parable of the unforgiving servant Jesus explains the principle of forgiveness. The religious leaders of that time taught that a person can be forgiven two or three times at the most. Peter asked Jesus, how often one should forgive, seven times? Jesus said “Seventy times seven”. There is no limit for forgiveness. In the parable of the servant, one owed the king thousands of talents which he couldn’t pay. The man fell down and pleaded for pity. The king had pity for him and released him from the debt. On his way he met a fellow servant who owed him few hundred talents and demanded instant payment. He begged for a little more time. The creditor refused and jailed him until the debt was paid in full. When the king came to know what happened, he called the man who was forgiven and said “You wicked servant, I forgave you large debt because you pleaded pity. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. So also, God will do to those who refuse to forgive a brother. Christians are both forgiven and forgiving people. They are quick to forgive and seek reconciliation when they know that God has graciously forgiven them. We have been forgiven much, so we must forgive others (Eph 4:32). Our God is a forgiving God (1 John 1:9). Unforgiving spirit is self-destructive.