I am that grandfather who is very willing to spoil his grandkids and sugar them up with abundant treats. So one day when I was in sole charge of watching them, I loaded them into the car and took them all for ice cream. Well, along with slopping it all over themselves and each other, they began to fight and argue about who had the larger or better cone given to them. I seriously considered grabbing the cones and smashing them one by one on top of their heads, except that someone might see that and call the cops for abuse; and I’d have to clean them up in any event. But it did annoy me that I was so nice to them and that they could not in turn get along with one another.
God must often feel this way about us. And if we are going to be truly better together in service (our theme this past week), we need to be able to work well together in spite of our failures, idiosyncrasies, or whatever else may tend to divide us. And this includes being restored to one another where sin damages a relationship, and being willing to confess, forgive and restore each other.
Jesus spoke to this by saying …
18:15 – “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 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.’ 17 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.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since 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 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. 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 it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
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. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed 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 or sister from your heart.”
The debt of sin that we have been forgiven is huge. God had no obligation whatsoever to redeem the lost race of mankind who rebelled against him and his word. But in grace he made the payment of greatest cost — that of his own son. Through this mechanism he has made forgiveness possible and extends it to us by his gracious revelation of the gospel. And for us to have received this gift but then not forgive one another and thus inhibit the work of the Kingdom together … well … that’s rather outrageous. Don’t be that way. Don’t make God want to dump an ice cream cone on your head! Settle scores and broken relationships; work together for the Lord and #ForOurCity.