Prov 22-23; Matt 18; Psalm 83
Matthew 18 puts together the themes of the dread full nature of sin, the absolute requirement of forgiveness and how this discipline it to be exercised in the community of faith. [None of the gospel makes any sense outside of this community – it is the place where the Gospel is enacted ‘You are the Light of the World’]
Firstly we read of the nature of the disciple – they are children, and thus they are to be treated with utmost care. This is the root of church discipline – of Life Together – every member is a precious child of God.
So it is literally a Terrible thing even to tempt another to sin – so calamatous for us is sin. I suggest that we all too often forget this.
But sin – must not have the last word – so if one of the little ones strays – they MUST be sought – they must be brought back to the fold.
Jesus explains how this is to happen in practical terms. It has been said before, but it is worth repeating, that how we handle sin in church is almost always the exact opposite of this. Jesus commands that the one who has sinned is to be approached privately – then if must be, with two witnesses – then if must be, before the whole congregation. How often does one sinned against howl with indignation to the whole church? How infrequently are the words of Jesus acted on? This is a sign that we are far far more concerned about the temporary damage sin has done to us, than we are about the possibly eternal damage sinning has done to the perpetrator.
Which is also why the command to forgive sticks in our craw – for we will not lay down our life for the brethren.
But that being the case – we find ourselves outside of the forgiveness of God.
This is no small matter