Read Matthew 18:1-35
Christ’s passion for right relationships is at the heart of much of this chapter. Although ninety-nine people may be part of His fold, He still goes in search of the one wayward soul. That helps us to understand Christ’s ministry and His purpose for the church.
But here is something else to recognize from this chapter: His passion for right relationships is not only for those distant from God and not part of His church. It is also something He desires for those within the body of Christ. He wants those claiming to be His followers to be in right relationship with Him and with one another. In fact, verses 15-20 outline a process of dealing with sin and with one another within the church. That process does not include holding bitterness, grudges, or gossip about how you have been wronged. Instead, it requires that you seek private reconciliation. If that doesn’t work, invite another person to go with you. If that is still ineffective, you are to leverage the influence of the broader church. Keep in mind that all of this is designed to “win your brother” by moving him to repentance for the act, word, or thought.
But right relationships don’t only require that someone else owns his/her sin at times. Yes, it is great if someone owns how they have hurt you. But, if you are the person who has been sinned against, you must be generous in forgiveness. This forgiveness does not keep track or declare limits. No, you are to offer limitless forgiveness because you recognize that you have received unlimited forgiveness yourself.
You see, Christ’s church is to be characterized by people who value relationships enough that they seek to reconcile. The parties seeking reconciliation must bring to the table repentance and forgiveness. We are to jettison from our vocabulary works like “I was justified,” “I don’t care how you felt,” “you deserved it,” “let me tell you what ________ did,” and “I will never forgive you.” We are to be fluent in the language of “I am sorry” and “I forgive you.”
Is there a relationship where you need to apply those principles?