Matthew 18

July Memory Verse: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Read: Matthew 18

Matthew 18 begins what is the fourth of Jesus’s five main discourses in the book of Matthew. The main focus of this grouping of teaching is on the functions of community under the authority of the Messiah.

What are some of the marks of Christian community we see in Matthew 18?

Humility (1-6)
One of the disciples asks a question that many of us have probably been guilty of asking (at least something similar). It came from a heart to elevate oneself above others—who of us are free from that type of heart? Jesus rebukes the question by showing that true greatness is not about position or power, but humility. What needs to change in your life for that to be your answer to a question like that?

Encouragement in sanctification (7-9)
We know that Jesus’s comments on temptation are related to not leading others astray based on verse 6. The goal of Christian community should be to avoid leading others into temptation by instead leading others into holiness and godliness through your prayers, example, and encouraging love toward each other.

Seeking the lost and straying (10-14)
These verses are referring both to people who are wandering away from Christ who are believers, as well as those who are not yet believers. It shows Gods love and care for people, as well as the importance that has been placed on believers to be God’s instruments in the restoration of these people with God.

Restoring the straying (15-20)
Jesus goes on to give a process for what to do when someone sins against you. First you go to them alone; then if he or she doesn’t repent, take someone else with you; then if that doesn’t work, you involve the elders of the church; then the church as a whole. This goes against both gossiping about another person, as well as burying hurt feelings; instead it points towards relationships of opennness that end with the goal of restoration.

Forgiving others (21-35)
Jesus finally teaches a parable that exposes the hypocrisy of not forgiving others when we have been forgiven the enormous debt of our sin. The forgiveness that we have received from God should affect the every part of our lives, including how we love and forgive other people who have sinned against us.

By: Graham Withers

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