What I read today;

1 Corinthians 2; Matthew 18; Jeremiah 42; Psalm 108; 2 Chronicles 35-36; Leviticus 24

Some people like to focus on Matthew 18 vs. 15-20.  They like to use these verses to invoke church discipline.  They miss the points that are brought up in the majority of the chapter.

It is the remainder of chapter 18 that actually focuses on our behavior not the behavior of others.

Verses 1-5 remind us to walk in humility.  Not to think highly of ourselves.  Not to behave in a manner that causes others to think less of our Lord.  Christians, of all people, should recognize that all of us are unworthy and that it is only by the grace and mercy of Jesus that we are saved.

Verses 6-7 instruct us to not allow our behavior or attitudes to cause someone else to turn away from Jesus Christ.  Is our behavior or attitude off-putting?  Are we finger pointing at other people or pointing our finger to direct people to Christ?

Verses 8-9 force us to look at our inward behaviors, thoughts, and actions.  Are we putting things ahead of Christ and his mission?  Are we doing things out of selfish ambition?  Are we focusing so much on our own self-righteousness that we miss the point of the Gospel?

Verses 10-12 show us how God feels about all mankind.  It tells us that God wants all of us to come to the knowledge of him and to be saved.  We should look with love on all people in spite of their actions and circumstances.  No matter how unloveable we must love.

Finally, Verses 21-35 order us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  We don’t forgive anymore.  We hold grudges, and we use those grudges to get even.  That’s not how God intended things to be.

While verses 15-20 are also relevant, they should be viewed in light of the rest of the chapter.  Instead of focusing on the church’s role in discipline maybe we should concentrate on our tendency to Gossip instead.  Maybe God is also telling us that if we are genuinely wronged, then we should be willing to go directly to that person and talk with them instead of talking behind that persons back.

When you read Matthew 18 next time try and focus inwardly on our own actions not outwardly on the actions of others.

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