91. Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in Heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in Heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. -Matthew 18:10-11 Context: Matthew 18:10-14
This verse informs us that God so loves the little children that will become big people that He has assigned angels to watch over them. That being the case, does any Christian have the right to despise another person who has been created by God? Absolutely not, but we are to love our fellow sinners in the name of Jesus. We are to view people as lost sheep that need to be sought out with the good news of the salvation that comes from receiving Jesus. That was Jesus’ mission, and it is ours: to seek and to save that which is lost!
92. 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. -Matthew 18:15 Context: Matthew 18:15-20
Many of the conflicts people have in church would be resolved if we would just take our Lord’s words here to heart. We talk to other people about a person we have had a problem with rather than go directly and talk with the person we have a problem with. The New Testament has so many wonderful teachings on resolving conflict, but none are of any use if we don’t start with this this one combined with a forgiving spirit. Come on church, let’s do it Jesus’ way! Get beyond the surface of things to the heart level – engage your brothers and sisters in Christ, listening with both ears and with both eyes, and giving and receiving forgiveness. If things don’t get resolved, do what Jesus said next, bring in a more mature believer or two to help resolve the matter. It was in this context of coming together AFTER a problem that Jesus gave this promise: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in he midst of them.”
93. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him (End of Jesus’ Parable of the Unforgiving Servant). Then Jesus said, “So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” -Matthew 18:33-35 Context: Matthew 18:21-35
Ouch! Could Jesus be any clearer?! If in your heart you refuse to forgive others their sin against you, you can’t be certain God has forgiven you? Why? Because when a person is truly saved, the heart of the Savior becomes the heart of the saved: reconciliation! That does not mean you condone or endorse what the other person has done, or that it is not wise to set up boundaries with them going forward. But it does mean that you release the ill-will you hold toward them that is really eating you up on the inside. Someone said it well, “Unforgiveness is a poison you drink hoping another will die – but you are the one dying!” The growing Christian will forgive first for sake of the glory of God, because they have been forgiven by God. They will forgive secondly for the sake of themselves, because our Creator didn’t create us to hold on to such emotions. And thirdly, they forgive for the sake of the other person, in hopes of what God can still do in that person’s life.
94. Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” -Matthew 8:21-22 Context: Matthew 8:18-22
Jesus wants our full obedience – NOW! This fellow was basically saying, “in a couple of years, I will have fewer responsibilities – then I will unreservedly serve you.” Here we note that it would have been a good thing to wait and help the family by burying his father. I Timothy 5:8 says believers are worse than unbelievers if they don’t take care of their family responsibilities. Jesus’ strong response makes us wonder if the father was still living at this point – I think he probably was. Thus the funeral wouldn’t be within the week, but more like within the next decade. Like a lot of us, the man was only willing to put serving Jesus second until an unspecified “tomorrow.” Jesus wasn’t having any of it! He had called this man to obey Him NOW, and delayed obedience was disobedience! Are you pushing obedience to Jesus out to your own unspecified “tomorrow?” Quit it! Follow the Lord’s call on your life!
95. But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. -Luke 9:55-56 Context: Luke 9:51-56
We must leave judgment and retaliation to God. Here James and John wanted to call down fire from Heaven to roast a Samaritan village that didn’t receive Jesus. Jesus told them they didn’t understand where the spirit they had manifested came from. And then He said what this first coming to earth and the following church age would be all about – saving people! Those are the days we are in now before necessary judgment comes – days of taking the good news of eternal life in Jesus to all nations. In John 10:10 we get a great description from Jesus about the difference between Satan and Jesus” The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full!” Leave judgment for judgment day – these are the days in which we persuade people with words, prayers, and acts of service!