Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:1-4
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents get brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. Matthew 18:21-35
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
This week’s Devotional set focuses on the role of forgiveness in relationships. The primary source of tension in relationships comes from the fact that people at their core are selfish. We want what we want and we want others to do what we want. Each day this week we will look at one of the many settings in which relationships take place. The problem of tensions in relationships, because of selfishness, runs through all the settings we will be looking at this week. Forgiveness is the key to overcoming selfishness in relationships and relieving these tensions. Each day we will look at a passage of Scripture that connects us with one area of relationships. We will also be looking this week at a story of Jesus about forgiveness and each day we will consider a portion of it. The setting for forgiveness in relationships we are looking at today is the church. We would like to think that tension in relationships would be minimal for churches, but unfortunately more often than not selfishness in our churches runs rampant. You would think that churches would be uniquely suited to having healthy relationships filled with love and selflessness. While our church is pretty low on tension filled relationships due to selfishness, most of us have experienced churches where this is not the case.
Our Philippians passage gives us insight into why this is and the transformation that is needed. When tensions run high in relationships within the setting of the church, it is more than likely that God’s people are not experiencing “encouragement from belonging to Christ, “comfort from his love,” fellowship together in the Spirit,” and “hearts (that are) tender and compassionate. Vibrant connections with Christ produce vibrant connections between God’s people. In turn vibrant connections between God’s people foster vibrant connections with Christ. When this spiritual cycle is alive and well, then God’s people will readily find themselves “agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,” “loving one another,” “working together with one mind and purpose,” “not being selfish and trying to impress others,” “being humble and thinking of others as better than themselves,” and “not looking out only for their own interests, but taking an interest in others.”
Today’s highlighted portion from Matthew 18 leads into the story Jesus tells. This highlighted portion gives us a question about forgiveness by Peter and the initial response of Jesus. Essentially, Peter is wanting to put a cap on forgiveness and Jesus is saying there is no cap. Peter has become a follower of Christ and it is likely he already has an idea that Jesus will be radical about forgiveness in relationships because he has already been radical about other things. Peter suggests a cap of seven which takes him beyond the conventional approach of the day and allows for a more radical approach by Jesus. Little does Peter grasp the extent of how Jesus will turn things up side down, not only in his story, but by his saving provision of redemption and forgiveness through the sacrifice of himself on the cross of Calvary that will soon take place. The “forgiveness” of Christ brought to humanity will become the basis for setting aright all human relationships. What a foundational setting the community of the redeemed is for living out the forgiveness of Christ that comes through personal redemption. If within the church forgiveness is offered in relationships as freely as Christ extends it to each believer, it will flow freely in all relational settings.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, may I always be one who contributes to the health and welfare of the church by promoting peace and unity in all my relationships with other believers in Christ. May I extend forgiveness as freely as you extend it to me. Continue to produce in me a vibrant connection with you and grant me vibrant connections with a circle of other believers that supports and fosters in me an ongoing vibrant connection with you, Lord. Amen!
Posted on Mon, March 11, 2019
by Ken Hart