Since Carly focused on chapter 17 last time, I’ll zero in on 18.
First, there’s a warning against causing others to stumble.
“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (7)
Don’t become a reason someone else does wrong. It’s definitely in me too rebel rouse, instigate, stir the pot and rile people up. I need to keep myself pretty reigned in with this. Much of my sloooooow sanctification processes is the LORD redirecting my powers of influence to lead others into truth and a culture of honor, instead of leading mutinies for my own entertainment.
Next, how to correctly have confrontations.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (15)
This leads into a series of bringing in more people as the brother ignores you, but too often we tell everyone else the offense before clueing in said brother. That in private part should not be overlooked! Oh the pain we could avoid if we immediately, privately confronted those who hurt us instead of recounting our woes to others! I’m sure we’ve all be on all sides of this, including being the one who offended and not knowing, or having the opportunity to clear things up and apologize, before the whole world knows. There is a huge temptation to take someone down who hurt you, but this is NOT THE WAY.
And thirdly, the importance of forgiveness.
“Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'” (33)
This is a major Christian principle, referenced also in the Lord’s Prayer: forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Think about it. What if the level at which you forgave others is exactly the level at which God forgave you? Think hard, because it seems like this is what He’s saying.
This chapter is always super convicting, because it’s easy to get loosey-goosey and careless about how we interact with each other’s sinfulness. That easily spirals into hurting each other instead of “speaking each other on toward love and good deeds” like we’re supposed to.
Which of these three do you struggle with the most? Let’s ask the LORD for healing and the powerful help of His Spirit to lead us into His most excellent way.