Thursday, July 05, 2007



Matthew 18:21-35

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. We are always looking for a loophole, especially on forgiveness. But in the Kingdom forgiveness is infinite.

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

NOTE the "Kingdom of heaven is like" sets up the story of the king who settled his accounts with his servants. One particular servant is singled out who was in need of great help.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. How soon he forgot his desperate situation.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Jesus is describing what it's like in Kingdom living as opposed to living like the world's kingdom. What do you see is most important here? I think it's two-fold:

FIRST-The King or Master we serve is very gracious as He works with us.

SECOND-If you are going to reflect the King and live the Kingdom lifestyle, you must be gracious-full of grace and mercy on people. This is such a part of the human condition to forget how much trouble we were once in and found grace. And, then we find ourselves in a blessed position and look down on others who are in need.

This is the pinnacle of self-absorption. You know where I see this and it makes me sick is when a person treats servants, yard-workers, housecleaners-the so called "little" people as if they are lesser than. When a person denigrates another, it says nothing of the littleness of the person being denigrated. However, it says tons about the person doing the denigrating.

I've learned something over the years that is helpful to me here: FIRST-Realize your own weaknesses, inadequacies and short-comings.

SECOND-Recognize everyone, no matter their station in life as your peer.

THIRD-Honor that person by eating their food, accepting their hospitality and joining them for one of their interests.

Jesus made it clear in His teachings that we are to give and do good to those who cannot repay us. That is the genuine love of God. So, how are you doing? Do you only hang out with those who are cool and in your "class" or are you touching the lives of those who are supposed to be "beneath" you?

This may be one of the primary tests of what it means to embrace Jesus and His Kingdom as a lifestyle. Think it over!



Matthew 18:1-6

Today we come to an interesting scene that begins with a question from the disciples: 1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

The answer Jesus gives is set forth in four parts: FIRST-Jesus pulls in a child and declares that no one will enter the kingdom of heaven without becoming like a child. 2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

SECOND-Jesus gets to the question of the disciples more directly and says that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven has the humility of a child. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

THIRD-Jesus announces the blessing to those who receive one child such as this that they also are receiving Jesus personally. 5"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

FOURTH-Jesus warns of the curse upon those who cause one of these little ones to stumble. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

NOTE that there are basically two conditions to enter the kingdom. Unless you are converted is the underlying theme here:

1. Converted means to have a change of mind-a change of mind toward Jesus. 2. Unless you become like children-humble, innocent, respectful and most of all, a teachable, tender heart, you cannot be converted in your heart and enter the Kingdom.

So, who are these "children" Jesus is referring to? Let me suggest three "children" that may fit this category:

1. Actual, real young children who are easily influenced. It's clear to most that the most strategic time to mark a person indelibly is in the younger season of life.

2. Young believers who are very new in their faith. They are easily influenced and distracted away from what's foundational and most important.

3. Immature followers of Jesus who just haven't been taught and also just don't know any better.

NOTE that this is a serious issue for Jesus. Your actions and reactions must be pulled into check. Your life is not just about you. There are many looking on and following you in your attitudes and actions. I like thinking that YOU ARE THE ONLY BIBLE SOME PEOPLE WILL EVER READ AND THE ONLY WAY JESUS WILL EVER BE ABLE TO TOUCH THEM, so pay attention to who you are and what you do.