Every relationship that you and I have at some point or another goes off track. We are going to look at a story in Matthew chapter 18. Jesus is talking to a group of people here and it’s called the parable of the unmerciful servant. The story starts off in Matthew chapter 18:15, and it says, “ ‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault,’ ” See Jesus highlights the fact that sins are going to happen between us. Jesus is not talking about a biological brother here, he is talking about our bothers and sisters in Christ; people we interact on a daily basis; friends, coworkers, parents, anybody that we are going to have a relationship with. Jesus says if that person sins against you, this is what you are to do, “ ‘go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.’ ” And Jesus emphasis something that a lot of us forget when we have problems relationally. Is it not true that often in relationships when there is a problem we go to everyone but to the person who had offended us? And Jesus says that we have a responsibility as human beings to keep our relationships clear, the way we begin this process is, we go directly to the person that has offended us. Jesus says in verse 15, “ ‘if they listen to you, you have won them over.’” Don’t you wish every relationship problem were that easy? Like you got a problem? You go to that person and you tell ‘em the problem is over. That is not how it typically works.
And Jesus continues this story and he says, “ ‘But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’ “ Jesus makes a very strong statement and he says sometimes when we have problems relationally, sometimes going to that person directly is just not enough. If you “drill down” the problems we have relationally it’s sometimes a little bit more complex that going to the person or taking someone else along. And listen to the question that Peter asks Jesus in response to what Jesus said in verse 21. Now it is important to know that Peter is one of Jesus’ key disciples; he’s one of the guys that spent the most time with Jesus and the intent of the question is good, he is wanting clarification about how he is supposed to act relationally and he comes to Jesus in verse 21 and he says, “ ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ ” Now that’s a great question…if someone offends me at school, my parents hurt me, someone injures me, treats me how I shouldn’t be treated, how many times should I forgive that person? Now Peter is thinking “What 1,2,3,4? I’m going to shoot high and he goes, how about 7 times? So Peter in his estimation right here is being very gracious he says if someone injures me or hurts me what 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7 times?!? Is that enough Jesus?
I think it is very indicative though of how we handle our hurts relationally. I don’t know about you but I have a tendency when people hurt me to begin to keep track. Its almost the 1st time I’m injured if you gossip about me or mistreat me I can handle that. The 2nd time I can handle that but when it starts to get 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the list goes on and on of the number of times that you’ve offended me or hurt me, I begin to keep a list of it. It’s almost like in our minds we develop this yellow legal pad of all the sins against us. Not only do we have this propensity to keep track of what people sin against us but don’t we have this propensity to keep track of the magnitude of that offends against us at the same time? It’s like we have several things that play into how we think we are to forgive other people, like we got the number of times that people hurt us or offended us but at the same time we have the magnitude of their sin against us. Like gossiping about us wouldn’t be as bad as blogging about us and saying the exact same thing. In addition to that we have the ranking of who the person is that is gossiping about us or sinning against us. So you got the frequency, the magnitude, and the person, and that all plays into how we rate people sins against us. In our minds we keep track of this.
COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 2 :)