Matthew 18

Matthew 18

Who Is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Temptations to Sin

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


Matthew 18 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

How do you approach confrontation and accountability in the church? The worldview of Jesus was not simply focused on “winning your brother” for the sake of a good deed, but because each person has value. Jesus begins talking about how valuable children are in the kingdom of God. Children have very little achievements or accomplishments. Their knowledge is underdeveloped, but their innocence is prevalent. I don’t mean innocence in the sense that they do not sin, but rather, that they live simple lives. Faith comes naturally to children because there are so many tasks they cannot accomplish on their own. Ask Hank as outlined, children are trusting.

After establishing that point, Jesus goes on to teach that every single one of His children are precious. This is a huge point, because when we move into accountability, it becomes the backdrop for understanding the ‘why’ behind reconciliation. Notice the great lengths prescribed for believers in order to win back their brother or sister.

They go alone. They go with 2 or 3. They go with the church and their leaders.

Herein lies a glaring problem I see in Christian circles today. We don’t do it. Many Christians simply refuse to follow the words of Christ.

And I wonder if maybe it’s because we don’t understand their personal value. We don’t do it because we don’t see other believers as God’s children. We don’t do it because they are wrong and we are right so why waste our time?

We tell ourselves it’s difficult and awkward. I think we don’t go because we don’t actually believe it will work out the way we want it to. Like Jonah, we don’t want those who have wronged us to experience the grace of Jesus. We justify our lack of obedience. “They were in the wrong, so they should apologize.” We want to see God destroy them because that’s what bad people deserve. We forget that they are valuable to Jesus. We forget that the same love He extended to us He also extended to them.

Most times in accountability, there is tension and frustration. “How could that person do such-and-such?” Jesus would have us first ask, “Is this person valuable to God?” Of course, the answer is yes. Therefore, Jesus prescribes us to go individually, go with 2 or 3, and go with the church. Go with grace and truth. Go with love. Go with anticipation for restoration. Do we actually do this in our disagreements and accountability with others?

Unfortunately, I think this is an area of the church (and probably my own life honestly) where there is a severe lack of obedience. On the other hand, I’ve known situations where this model was followed with careful prayer and tenderness. In one instance, the person being confronted wanted nothing to do with it, and they walked away from the church. Even after multiple attempts to explain the situation and reconcile in love, this person refused to meet. It’s easy to look back and question – was that the right thing to do?

I fully believe that if you take this model to heart, God will be faithful one way or another. We cannot be held responsible when we genuinely follow Christ’s model and people walk away from it. We cannot fear confrontation. We also should not be seeking it out constantly. Grace and truth is always required in situations like this, and above all, our hearts should seek to understand a fellow believer’s value to Jesus Christ.

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