READ: Matthew 18:15-35
THINK: Forgiveness can certainly be tough--both giving it and receiving it. Either way, it's a humbling experience. But Jesus expects His followers to take the initiative in extending forgiveness and working to reconcile differences and disputes in relationships. But sometimes our best efforts to do so are not enough to repair the damage. In these cases, Jesus lays out a biblical pattern for resolving issues, enacting discipline, and restoring godly relationships among people in the church (see 18:15 note). Though it might seem that people would welcome and appreciate forgiveness, Jesus illustrates how some resent the need to offer as well as receive forgiveness.
RESPOND: Why is there special power among God's people when they join together in prayer and agree in faith? (See 18:19 note.) What was Jesus' point in telling His disciples to forgive "seventy-seven times"? Why would the man who had been forgiven of a very large debt turn around and immediately refuse to forgive someone of a very small debt? (See 18:35 note.) Consider the definite possibility that this man resented his own need for forgiveness and blamed the man with the small debt for putting him in that humiliating position. Why does God take the issue of unforgiveness so seriously? (See 18:35 note.)
PRAY: Pray that God keeps you humble enough to both offer and receive forgiveness when necessary. Thank Jesus for providing forgiveness for you through His sacrificial death on the cross.
ACT: If you have an issue or dispute with anyone--or you know of anyone who has an issue with you--take the initiative in asking for and offering forgiveness. Do so graciously, not expecting an apology or anything in return. Also, make a point to show kindness to someone who has wronged you in the past.
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