Family Matters: Peace Keeping and Forgiveness – Matthew 18:15-35

He’s still talking about relationships between fellow Christ-followers from where we left off yesterday.  Just because it’s the family of God, doesn’t mean we don’t need some mad conflict resolution skills.

  • V15 – I noticed a couple of things were implied by this statement: 1) Don’t assume the other person knows they did something wrong and/or that they know what that something is, and 2) Confront the issue and don’t leave it as an elephant in the room or pretend it didn’t happen.
  • “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” – because when he sinned against you, his sin separated you and you had technically lost him?  Either way, I’ve always found that relationships tend to grow deeper when we’ve weathered the “storm” of having to repent and get reconciled with each other, if there’s true reconciliation.

◊ This is the best case scenario.  Has this ever worked for me?  Have I ever been on the receiving end of this?  Did I listen and repent?

  • V16 – These people should probably be neutral parties so the other person doesn’t feel like you’re ganging up on them.

◊ Who is a peacemaker that I could trust to help me confront a person who is resistant to reconciliation?  Would anyone consider me a peacemaker if they were in the same situation?

  • V17 – The “church” is the last resort, not the first.  They have the final authority, but you needn’t make a church-wide mountain out of a personal molehill.  It’s interesting that Jesus says to treat the unrepentant like you treat these other people (Gentiles and tax collectors), but He’s made a point to try to change the disciples’ attitudes towards Gentiles and tax collectors.  (Matthew and his come meet Jesus party attendees, the Gentile woman in Canaan and the other 4000+ Gentiles He fed and healed there as well.)  Oh, the Message gives a good translation:  “If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”  In other words, if he doesn’t listen to the authority of the church, you should assume he’s not a Christian and take it from there.
  • V18 – He said this before to Peter, now He’s extending the authority to all the disciples.  I’m not sure I have a firm grasp on what this actually means, though.  Anyone else have any ideas?
  • V19 – Following Christ is a community event.  With so much authority being given, there is also a measure of accountability.
  • V20 – This is a beautiful promise that also proves His deity (only God can be in more than one place at a time), but to the disciples who were looking at and thinking of Jesus in His human form, this had to be at least a little confusing.
  • V21 – Peter’s clearly got a specific incident in mind and he thinks he’s being generous.  (My ESV says rabbis of the time required you to forgive someone 3 times.)

◊ Do I feel like I’m doing someone a gracious favor when I have to forgive them for the same thing more than once?  If God kept a record of my sins and I looked at it, might there be one or two (or hundreds of) things that He has to forgive me for on a regular basis?

  • V22 – Nice try Peter.  Someone once pointed out that this may be the number of times we have to bite our tongues so as not to drag up a past offense that we have already forgiven someone.

◊ Do I hold sins against people after they’ve asked forgiveness and I’ve extended it?  Does God do that to me?

  • V23 – We’ve been telling and talking about this parable in our house a lot lately, now that the little sis is old enough to get on big brother’s nerves.

◊ Do I extend the same grace and forgiveness to my kids that I ask them to extend to each other?  Do I tell them about how this reflects the grace God has extended to us?

  • V24 – My ESV says that one talent was equivalent to about 20 years wages, so 10,000 talents is basically saying he owed an incalculable debt.  In todays terms, about $6 billion.  Yoikes!

◊ My debt of sin against God is incalculable.  There is no way I could ever repay it.  (Romans 6:23a – For the wages of sin is death…)  This parable is about me.

  • V25 – ESV also says this was a common practice in the ancient world.  (See 2 Kings 4:1 and Neh 5:4-8)
  • V26 – Seems like an empty promise if he really did owe $6b.

◊ How many times have I tried to promise God I would “be good” if He did something for me?  Am I trying to repay my own debt?  This is impossible!

  • V27 – That’s a very kind master!  He didn’t lower the debt or make him pay some.  He erased it completely!

◊ Praise God for His infinite mercy, grace, and forgiveness!  What a load off my shoulders!  $6 billion worth of sin debt wiped clean.  (…but the gift of God is eternal life. Romans 6:23b)

  • V28 – This is still a chunk of change – about $12,000 in today’s terms.  But that’s pennies compared to $6b!

◊ I’ve had people really wrong me.  Really Really wrong me.  But, compared to the number of times I have wronged my Creator, the holy God of Heaven who always does what is good, right, and perfect… well, let’s not compare.

  • V28 – Yikes!  So violent!

◊ What does my anger look like when I am wronged?

  • V29 – Hmm…this request sounds familiar.  It’s the same request he made to his master.

◊ Do I make judgements about people’s sincerity or motives when they ask me for forgiveness?

  • V30 – He had no mercy and he inhibited the man’s ability to pay the debt.

◊ Do I offer people the same grace and forgiveness that God offered to me?  Do I make myself available to them for reconciliation or do I avoid them like the plague and give them reason to doubt God and His goodness since I am supposed to be a reflection of His love to others?

  • V31 – Other people are watching.

◊ If I am supposed to be a reflection of God’s love to others, what would my neighbors say I believe about God’s love and forgiveness based on the way I treat my spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, etc.?

  • V32-35 – Gulp!  This is serious business.

◊ Is there anyone I need to extend forgiveness toward?

◊ Do I take on a holier-than-thou attitude toward people in my Christian family rather than putting myself in the same category of “miserable sinner who has been forgiven much” that they’re in?

◊ Am I thankful for God’s forgiveness or do I take it for granted?

Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:

  • Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
  • What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
  • Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
  • What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
  • What do these verses move me to pray for myself?
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About knockinguntilitopens

I am a Christ follower, a wife, a mom, and a creator. I like to share my stuff.
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