Read Matthew 18:1-35
“They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud.” – John Flavel
Jesus’ teaching in this chapter addresses a critical heart issue: pride…and its preferred counterpart, humility. In the first four verses, Jesus teaches that His followers must be humble and dependent on Him, like a child to their parents. Humble followers are great followers (v. 4). And throughout this chapter, Jesus uncovers the benefits of humility and the devastating consequences of pride.
Pride will keep us from repenting of sin (vv. 6-9). Jesus’ graphic language strongly exhorts us to cut off sin before it overcomes us. We tend to take sin much too lightly. But look around. We see the devastating consequences of sin all around us: addiction, conflicts, fear, anxiety, greed, immorality, hatred, idolatry, and the list goes on. The prideful person considers themselves immune to the consequences of sin, or presumes on the grace of God. The humble person takes a posture of repentance and surrender to the Lord’s leadership.
And what’s more, if we fail to repent when lovingly confronted by another believer (vv. 15-20), we send a clear message that we value ourselves above the other person and unity in the church.
Pride can make us feel superior to others (v. 10). Looking down on another person, particularly another believer, treats that person with disrespect and as inferior. That kind of attitude is grievous to our Heavenly Father, because He and His angels take interest in their well-being as much as ours (vv. 11-14).
Moreover, pride prevents us from forgiving others (vv. 21-35). Many people are held captive because they refuse to forgive, and they become resentful, bitter and angry – destroying their lives and the lives of others (Hebrews 12:14-15)
Jesus’ words to Peter and the parable of the unmerciful servant proclaim loud and clear that, in Christ, we have been forgiven a debt we could not possibly repay. Who are we to refuse to pardon those who have wronged us? Jesus isn’t saying it’s easy, but He is saying it’s essential.
I like what Rick Warren said about forgiveness: “Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves that allows us to get on with our lives instead of being trapped in the past by resentment.”
Do you want to strengthen your spiritual walk? Increase your humility and forgive others for past wrongs. It will make your relationship with Jesus more dynamic and fulfilling and your relationships with others more encouraging and redemptive.