LINK: Matthew 18
Parallel Passages - Mark 9 and Luke 9
This chapter is about our relationships with others, especially within the kingdom.
First (vs 1-6), we need to have an attitude of humility rather than think, "I am better than so-and-so and should be treated better." We have to learn not to think of ourselves, but to put others first.
Next (vs 7-14), Jesus tells us to do "spiritual surgery" to remove those things in our lives that hinder us from complete discipleship. Cut out the areas of sin. We also must keep from causing others to sin. Beyond that, we should be like Jesus and seek to bring those who stray back to where they belong.
In verses 15-20 we have a pattern for dealing with a sinful offense. Read this section carefully. I think Jesus has a plan that is much better than our human tendency toward gossip and grudges.
The rest of the chapter (vs 21-35) deals with our forgiveness and mercy toward one another.
Any of the above sections are great food for meditation. Try to take some time today to meditate on each one. I'm going to focus here on the last one. As believers, we often don't realize how much we have been forgiven. We had a ginormous debt that we could never, ever pay no matter what we did. And Jesus paid for it himself and forgave us our debt. When others offend us, we should remember the forgiveness we have received and extend it to them. This is so much harder than it sounds, because we have that tendency to focus on ourselves (as illustrated in the beginning of the chapter). When we focus on ourselves, we highlight the offenses against us. If we focus on the forgiveness and mercy we have received from God, I think we would get better at extending forgiveness and mercy to others.
Lord, thank you for your great mercy and for forgiving my sin. My sin against you is much greater than any sin anyone commits against me. Help me learn to show mercy and forgive others. Teach me to live in an attitude of humility and to learn to align my heart with yours. I want to be your servant and obey you and become who you want me to be. In the name of Jesus, amen.