Matthew Chapter 18

The Greatest in the Kingdom of God. 
(Read Matthew 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.  Faith is trust and dependence on God and his promises.  We should depend on God just as children depend on our parents. Children are powerless.  Faith is more than mental assent of some doctrines. It is trusting in God and living in obedience to His Word.  Receiving another believer 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 (Matthew 18:6-10). We must not despise the weak believers.  Salvation is purely by God's mercy. It is our duty 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 (1 Timothy 2:4). The great commission of the Lord 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: 
(Read Matthew 18:15-20)
This passage illustrates how to restore a sinning believer in a church. Christians are not without sin. They are weak and prone to offend others. We must help those who struggle in sin.  We must help them to see sin that is damaging their lives, families, and the church. Our goal is to gain the brother in the end and not to condemn him (Matthew 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 to establish the offense he committed (Deuteronomy 19:15).  If he refuses to listen again, take this matter 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 Corinthians 5:4-5; 1 Timothy 1:20; Matthew 18:19-20).  The excommunication of a sinning believer is done with much sorrow and with impartiality.  This action is taken on the authority of Christ and his Word to maintain the sanctity of the church. If the believer repents, the church should welcome him to fellowship.  We should never forget the mercy God has shown 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 live a life in isolation but in fellowship with the church family.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant:   
(Read Matthew 18:21-35)
In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus explains the principle of forgiveness. The religious leaders of that day 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 mercy.  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 must be quick to forgive and seek reconciliation with others. We have been forgiven much, so we must forgive much (Ephesians 4:32).  Our God is a forgiving God (1 John 1:9).  We should extend unlimited forgiveness to others.  Unforgiving spirit is self-destructive.