How Often Should I Forgive? – 2

*Pastor’s Note: This is a continuation as part of this weeks Body Ministry category which is an article adapted from Cecil E. Sherman’s Formation Commentary on Matthew. There are a couple of things that I have not kept in the post, things that will NOT change the flow of the message in the least. Also I changed the Scripture verses to the New King James Version.

It will be broken up into four parts throughout this week. Also, any images displayed are not part of the original, but put in as part of my posting. My prayer is that you will be blessed, inspired and encouraged by this to move forward towards Christ Jesus in strength!

A Formula For Making Wrongs Right

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:15-20.

“If your brother sins against you,” what do you do? Jesus recommended the following:

  1. In private, go to the offending party. State the problem. “Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” Hopefully, this will have a happy effect. The offending party may see the problem, be sorry for the pain, and promise to make wrongs right. If this happens, you have not only corrected “the fault,” you have “won your brother over.” The fellowship of the congregation is kept intact while holy living is enlarged.
  2. Suppose step one fails. What then? Get “one or two others” to go with you. Make a second visit. Discuss the “fault” in the presence of witnesses. Hopefully, this enlarged company will accomplish what a private visit did not. Again, the goal is an end to disruptive conduct and a restoration of Christian fellowship.
  3. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” Note the unwritten assumption. The congregation is the final authority for determining right and wrong for the membership: “If he refuses to listen even to the church.” When we come into church membership, we give ourselves over to the discipline of the congregation. This is not often spoken in today’s church. We come in, but we reserve the right to “do our own thing.” The early church did not know such individualism and would have had no part in it. Be careful to read the text. The member does not submit to the authority of the Pastor alone; it is the congregation as a whole that has the power to correct, censor, or discipline.
  4. The congregation can exclude the member who will not allow forgiveness to happen. “Treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” This is hard for us to hear. We can recount the times Jesus welcomed Gentiles and tax collectors. But there is a difference. The tax collectors Jesus gathered to faith were eager to change and open to the gospel. The Gentiles welcomed to faith were ready to change sinful lives. We are dealing with stubborn, unrepentant folks here. Real church has never been an “anything goes” company. When we make it so, we are not biblical. We are soft-headed, calling it forgiveness.
  5. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This is the right setting for “binding and loosing.” Jesus is stating it is not Peter alone or in the case of the church, the Pastor alone who binds and looses; it is the congregation as a whole. And when the Bible is opened, and when the Spirit is called for a helper, and when earnest, caring Christians think and pray, then the will of God can be done in a hard situation with a difficult member.
  6. And Jesus will be present when the sorting out is done. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” This puts the heartwarming assurance of Jesus in proper setting. He is with the people of God when they are forced to deal with an unrepentant member of the congregation, when forgiveness can’t come because the member will not let it.

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Adapted From: Cecil E. Sherman, Cecil Sherman Formations Commentary: Matthew – Mark.
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of intercessory prayer, encouragement and exhortation of the Word of God and author of the ministry blog, For The Love of God. I live in Delta, Colorado with my beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom we affectionately call Bella.
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