According to Jesus, God is angry and severe with those who cause his dependent people to stumble in wrong or to give up trust in him. God is gentle beyond reason with those who know they need his help. There is a process that Jesus tells us to use to deal with wrongs done in our Church communities. It runs against our culture where we have become used to living with unresolved wrongs. Jesus wants us to confront the wrongs done amongst us so that his dependent ones are protected and those who have done those wrongs will repent and not lose the Kingdom of Heaven. We are to keep short accounts with each other and this kind of confrontation is what Jesus means by pastoral care.
Matthew 18.1-20 | Church discipline
We never stop being children
Our significance takes more courage than we think
God is more protective than we think
Confrontation is more necessary than we think
For further thought
Q: Why does the disciples’ question about significance and status in 18.1 provoke such a strong reaction in Jesus? (See also, 19.13-15, 20.20-28 where the debate continues.)
Q: In this passage, to be a child, a dependent of God, is to make clear headed and responsible decisions about the wrongs that we may do to others and the wrongs done to us. Why does it take child-like dependency upon God to act in such an adult way?
Q: In verse 5 we are told that if we welcome those who come to us in the name of Jesus, no matter their status, we welcome the Son of God. What does this teach us about our adoption in Christ as God’s children?
Q: In 5.27-30 Jesus applies a metaphor about ridding ourselves of sin for our own sakes. In 18.6-9 he applies the same metaphor to ridding ourselves of sin for the sake of others. How do our wrongs cause others to stumble? Why is it urgent for us to address our temptations?
Q: In verses 10-14, how do we despise Christians, even the ones that wander away, and why is this foolish?
Q: How can we carry out the discipline of verses 15/2- and why is it important that we do?
Q: How do verses 10-14 & 7.1-6 inform the way we do church discipline?