Friday, January 18, 2013

Matthew 18 - Keeping Each Other from Stumbling

LINK: Matthew 18

I found several possible applications from this chapter. So, I included them within some of the numbered events. 


115. The disciples argue about who would be the greatest: Matthew 18:1-6, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48

Rank was important to the Jews, but Jesus taught that the essence of true greatness was learning to be a servant of all. The Greek word here is diakonos which means "one who attends to the needs of others freely" as opposed to doulos which means a slave who is in a servile position. The road to glory is via service not self-exaltation. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of this. 

117. Jesus warns against temptation: Matthew 18:7-9, Mark 9:42-50

"Woe" refers to the judgment of God being upon anyone who causes another believer, especially immature ones, to turn away from believing and following Him. 

118. Jesus warns against looking down on others: Matthew 18:10-14

This is similar to the lost sheep parable in Luke 15:3-7, but there it is talking about unbelievers, and here it is talking about believers. We need not neglect young believers but help them grow and flourish.  

Watch that you don't treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don't you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?

Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn't he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn't he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn't want to lose even one of these simple believers.
 (Matthew 18:10-14) 
I wasn't raised in the church. I came to believe at ten years old. But I had no one who followed me up, and I was not part of the church family because I was there solo while others would go home to eat their family dinners at home after church. No one took me under their wing. Therefore, I was an orphan in the church.  

Shortly after I came to believe (might have been the same trip, but it is very fuzzy right now), I opened the gate at camp, and one of the sheep got out of its pen and caused havoc. I finally got it back in its pen. It was a funny after camp story to tell, but it is sort of what I did after becoming a believer. I was the one out of 100 that went astray, and there was no one there to guide me and get me back in the pen when I went astray. 

Thankfully, those personal angels were in touch with the Father, and I came back in a pretty miraculous way. God does not have to use other people to do this, but He sure likes to because we are part of His body, and it glorifies Him when we step in and do His work under His direction and power. 

That is why I am so PASSIONATE about the follow-up, nurture, and care for young believers so that they might be established in their faith and learn to feed themselves and grow to help others learn to feed themselves; and so on and so on and so on.


My personal challenge to you is to find a young believer to help grow. Start praying about it and talk to people in your local assembly that might be able to direct you toward someone. God has dropped people into my lap almost out of nowhere when I have asked Him to bring me women to help grow. 

Just show up. Most people are ready to help someone else, but they do not have the confidence to do it. 

Try to "step out of the boat"! You might just walk on water. :)

119. Jesus teaches how to treat a believer who sins: Matthew 18:15-20

This is what Jesus teaches us to do when another believer sins against us or causes us to stumble:
  1. Go in private and seek reconciliation by gently correcting (18:15, Galatians 6:1).
  2. If the person absolutely refuses after many attempts at reconciliation, get help from one or two others (18:16).
  3. If the person refuses to seek reconciliation with God and others after exhaustive attempts, ask church leaders to intervene in order to have them hold the person accountable to Scripture (18:17, 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16; 2 Timothy 2:23-26; Titus 3:10).
The goal is NOT to win an argument but to win a brother or sister!


Here is a PDF link to a wonderful pamphlet that I use on a regular basis

Peacemaking Principles: Responding to Conflict Biblically

Also heartily recommend that you read (and reread) The Peacemaker by Kenneth Sande for what I have found to be the most thorough way to put this passage into practice! It is excellent and convicting.

120. Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving debtor: Matthew 18:21-35

Rabbinical tradition only required someone forgive another three times. So, Jesus is communicating that forgiveness is very important: one should forgive 490 times! The parable reinforces the principle. 

10,000 talents are several million in today's economy. The master forgave the servant, but that servant could not even forgive a day's wages of his fellow servant.

We have been forgiven by our Master of much. Therefore, we should be generous in our forgiveness. 


I love the song "Forgiveness" from the musical Jane Eyre. Helen Burns taught Jane about forgiveness, and she can teach us also. I just listened to it again this morning, many years after I wrote this original post, and it is so powerful. 

Hear the song and read the lyrics HERE.


Lord, give us compassion for the young sheep in our lives. Help us not be a stumbling block but a stepping stone in their growth. Help us to be reconciling and forgiving too. Amen. 
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