In his fourth major sermon in Matthew, Jesus began to outline regulations for life in Christian community under the sign of the cross. This discourse divides naturally into two sections. The first focuses on humility; the second on forgiveness.
In verses 1 through 9, Jesus called His disciples to a humble demeanor. Positively, this means adopting a childlike dependence on God. Negatively, it means ruthlessly excising from one’s life anything that could cause another believer to sin. In verses 10 through 14, Jesus explored why He can command these things of His followers. God has already demonstrated the ultimate humility in leaving His nearly complete flock of ninety-nine sheep to seek to recover one stray.
Closely linked with humility is forgiveness. When believers offended fellow believers, they should seek reconciliation at almost any cost. Verses 15 through 20 describe the appropriate process but recognize that at times one party will still refuse to be reconciled.
When all other measures fail, the unrepentant sinner must be “excommunicated” from the fellowship. But even then the goal is rehabilitative and not punitive. Treating people like pagans or tax-collectors suggests first of all that they are not considered as members of the community. But it also indicates that, even at Jesus dealt with the literal pagans and tax-collectors of His day, they are continually wooed to repent so that they might return.
Decisions made in church in keeping with the procedures of verses 15 through 18 will be ratified in heaven. On the other hand, when believers do repent, forgiveness should be unlimited. For in light of the immense sin God has forgiven each of us, a professing Christian’s refusal to forgive a fellow believer who requests it (and demonstrates a change of heart and action) proves so callous that one can only conclude that such a person never truly experienced Christ’s forgiveness in the first place.
Credits: Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor and Holy Bible, King James Version.
Columbia Prayer Chain
Monday, September 26
In our prayers: Jerry Callahan, Russ Meyne, April Goodwin, Laura Bushnell, Loretta M. in Cayce, Kody Oswald, Tina Bailey, Oliver Crawford, Edgar Maxwell, Laura Lou Roamans, Elizabeth Adams, Rootie Pope in Leesville, Gene Awtrey in Spring Valley, John Conde, Millie Husbands, Clyde Ireland, Sam King, Bob Whiteside, Chuck Witten, Lindsay Cathcart, Raven Tarpley, Elizabeth F., Steven and Janelle, William Alex McDaniels, Maddie Rosenthal, DuBose Tuller, Nancy, Doris C., Lynn in Camden, John in Forest Acres, Frances R., Chris Johansson in Blythewood, Nancy in West Columbia
In memoriam: Sam King, John S. Halsall III, Donna Estes Griffith, Carolyn Meadors Holderman, Theresa McCoy Hancock, Ann McClellan Gilliam, Cora Lee Way, Larry Crawley, Robert Earl Atkinson
Our prayers are with: Mandy and all beloved pets, our president and congress and all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box below or email me to join our Prayer Chain. It is updated daily as prayers are requested.
Sharon is a member of the Community Church of the Midlands that meets at Seven Oaks Community Center at 200 Leisure Lane In Columbia and is a frequent participant, with her husband Douglas, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral located at in Columbia.
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