August 23 – Unstoppable – Unstoppable church: unlimited forgiveness

Read Matthew 18:15-35

Christ’s unstoppable church is to be characterized by unlimited forgiveness.  Unfortunately, in the ebb and flow of real life, most of us would share Peter’s conviction and equation.

Same person + seven offenses + seven pardons = insane generosity.

But seven represents the limit.  In our fallen nature, all of us have our limit.  When we respond in the flesh, all of us have that point, where we begin to harbor a grudge.  Each of us, responding according to carnal reflex, draws a line in the sand at some point and says, “No more!”  And, typically, we don’t even make it to seven offenses.

The life equation that Peter introduces extends beyond most human practices . . . but it falls short of divine expectation.

The church, you see, is to be a place rich in grace.  It is to offer unlimited forgiveness.  That unlimited forgiveness extended to others is fueled by the reality that every Christ follower has been the recipient of unlimited grace poured out over us.  If you have come to Christ by faith, even the offenses of which you are most ashamed have been forgiven.  If you could list out the sum total of all of your sin in red marker on a black board, you would discover that the board has not only been erased; it has also been whitewashed.  Having received such unlimited forgiveness, we are invited to be conduits that freely pass that forgiveness to others.

And that forgiveness also points us to reconciliation.  I hope you noticed that process of reconciliation in this passage.  Each step along the way has reconciliation as its goal:

  1. Go to the person alone.
  2. Go to the person with others.
  3. Involve the broader church.
  4. Treat the person as an unbeliever.

Is there someone with whom you need to engage in this process?  Is there a line in the sand you have drawn that you need to go back and erase?  Do you need to set aside your human response of grudges and bitterness in favor of a divine response of forgiveness and grace?

Steve Kern

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