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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Matthew 18:18-35

By Stuart Mains

June 11, 2023

Obrigado por conferir este sermão. Se você se comove com o que ouve e está na área de Boston, considere visitar pessoalmente!

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Amen, church. Well, welcome. I am so grateful to be able to be up here with you guys. My name is Stewart. For those of you that don't know me and my wife, Ashley, I help lead this congregation in downtown Boston. We have just crossed the two-year mark of Ashley and I being here. This truly has been one of the happiest times of my life. I love you and I love this church. I love what I'm doing. I love being a part of what is happening here in the Boston Church and all the different miracles that have been happening over the past couple of days, weeks, and months. If you are just walking in here, I don't think you could even comprehend what you just stumbled upon. In Matthew 13, Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. This truly is a treasure that we get to be a part of this Church. I just want to share how much I love you, and how grateful I am that if you're visiting with us, you made the time to be here and excited to see what God is going to reveal to you through his Word this morning.

Let's start with the Word of Prayer, and then we'll get into it. Dear God, thank you for this time to be together. God, we're grateful to worship a mighty, awesome, great provider of a God that we have. God, we so thank you for the ways that you have provided in our lives so far beyond what we deserve. God, as we talk about the grace today that you've shown us, the ways that you've shown us mercy, God, I pray that it's an ever-present reality on our minds that we do not deserve this, that we don't deserve your family, that we don't deserve the ability to be a part of a church like this. We don't deserve a relationship with you. We don't deserve any of it. Instead of what the world teaches us, that this is going to be a discouraging fact, it's a true reality in our lives that should give us great hope because you provide it for us anyways. God, thank you for the truth that's in your word that we can rest on its promises. We can rest on its words. That it is not something just to be looked at as having a few wise teachings, but it is the very words from your lips that you are calling us to live and understand and be through all the things that you're saying.

We love you in Jesus' name, Amen. I don't know if you are into Marvel movies or whatever, but the Spiderverse movie is out. How many of you guys have already seen The Spiderverse? Okay, all 12 of you are loud and proud, and there you are. Not too long ago, the movie Spiderman came out and Tobey Maguire was a Spiderman. In that movie, his uncle was sharing with him. He was saying, With great power comes great responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility. The title of today's message is, but really, what power do you really have? You have the power over yourself. What you do. After last week's sermon, for those of you that were here when you heard about the survey that was done with the hot coffee and the cold coffee, maybe we don't have as much power over ourselves as we think we do. But nonetheless, we do have some power over how we spend our time, our money, energy, our focus. If you're a manager, you have power over the employees that you oversee. We manage and have power over the children that we raise.

If you have children, there was no amens there, but it's true, we do. But in our world, we have a funny relationship with power. We just sent off to Germay, the Bulvouses, and they have been now leading the church. In German, when you call someone the leader of that church, the word for a leader in German is Fuehr. You have to be very careful what you call a minister or leader in Germany. So they don't call them the Fuehr. They got different words for that because we have seen a world devastated by power. Power has been wielded to devastate or break down, to destroy and abuse. We know the phrase absolute power corrupts absolutely. But there's something in every one of us that wants power. You may say, No, I don't want power. I don't want to be a king, or I don't want to be a president. I don't want to be a CEO. I don't want to be the boss. I just don't want all that anxiety. I don't want all that pressure. But all of us want the power to change and cause change for good.

Call it what you want, influence, or the idea of impact. We love and know many people that desire to be influencers on social media. Influencers are like a polarizing subject. Some of you really desire to be an influencer and others of you resent that influencers even exist on the planet. But nonetheless, we all want to have an impact. We want to have an effect. God has placed in each one of you a desire, a longing to change and influence the world around you, to change people for the good. There's a voice in each one of us. For some of you, it's very dampened. It's been low. The opposite of what that opening song volume was like in this service. We were pumping some sound there for you guys. Some of you have it very, very loud that you can hear the voice that says, I want to cause change. For others of you, it's a very faint voice. Maybe you've tried at different times and found yourself to be ineffective in causing change or influencing or having any power to change anything in your circle, a friend group, or your family. And so you have this small little voice, this lingering whisper if you will, that desires to change but feels like, am I really ever going to influence change in anybody's life?

We know the media as I shared, Spiderman, Marvel, Star Wars, all of these superhero sci-fi movies, they play on this desire, this desire to have a greater effect than what's normally available to us just as mere humans. We come into the story in Matthew 18. Now, last week, we split the idea and the concept of what was being talked about by Jesus in Matthew 18 into two parts. Last week, we talked about the idea of how we change and the concept of we've got to be able to have an intrinsic desire to change, a desperation to change, but also we need a culture around us to help us transform. It doesn't have to be by chance. Jesus in Matthew 18 describes the concept of if you find somebody in your church in your fellowship in sin, then you need to bring it to them and you need to challenge them on that. If they don't change and you need to bring two or more to them and challenge them on that as well. And if they don't change again, then you bring it before the church and they still do not repent of those sins.

Then you treat them as you would the scriptures say, as a tax collector or as a pagan, as an outsider. And so on the heels of this concept of this is what you need to do as he's speaking to the Apostles, as he's speaking to the church about how to handle sin, we come into this next part of the passage, Matthew 18, verse 18, it reads, 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. 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. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them. I don't know if you've caught what he was saying there, but he's talking about church discipline and the idea of how we lead the congregation. Immediately after that, in speaking to the Apostles about this idea of church discipline, then he goes into verse 18 saying that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loose in heaven.

I don't know if you catch totally what he's saying, but he's saying that as leadership, as Apostles that they were, and as the church leadership, there is the authority that binds things in heaven or loosens them in heaven based on how we handle circumstances within the church of God. You think about the power that Jesus is imparting on the church, is imparting on leadership. There was one Amen from the back there, but that's a daunting thing. You then see why in Hebrews 13, verse 17, it says, Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that your work will be a joy and not a burden for that would be of no benefit to you. We see these passages, but then we look out into our world of leadership in the Christian world and we see men that are cheating on their wives. Even though they're preaching from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, they have infidelity in their lives or impurity. There is just minister after minister after minister that we could rattle off if I asked for responses that have fallen into sin, that has disqualified them to be any leader in God's Kingdom.

We have this idea of there's authority in the church and then in the leadership mixed with what we see around us and what the media pumps us with is saying there really should not be any authority in these people's hands. Look at how they're living. What a powerful concept. What a scary concept. It wasn't lost even on the Apostles what Jesus was saying. Peter comes to Jesus nervous, I believe, about what Jesus just said. Look what he says here as he asked him to give me more context here, Jesus. Look at the story that he uses in verse 21. It says, 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. He just heard that he has power in heaven and on earth. He's going, so okay, how does this work, God? How often should I forgive the people that sin in the church? Jesus answered I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times. Or in another passage, it says seven times, 70 times, meaning as many times as required. Verse 23, Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.

As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 bags of gold was brought to him. 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. At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. Be patient with me, he begged, and I will pay back everything. The servant's master took pity on him and canceled the debt and let him go. You see, Jesus says, no, you need to have a spirit of being willing to forgive. And then he burst into this story, this parable to describe the heart and the mindset that we need to have as a church towards those whom we are carrying out these practices towards. And he goes in, he says there's a man and he owes him 10,000 bags of gold. Now, when we hear this, I don't think we comprehend what he's talking about. We do not live in a day to understand the concept, the wealth, the inflation structure, the Roman time. We don't understand exactly what he's meaning. And so I broke down what this actually looks like.

What he says in Greek he said 10,000 talents, which means a bag of gold between 57 pounds and 80 pounds. Okay? If you take that another way one talent equals 180,000 days of working for the average person. Now, I said, I don't know off the top of my dome how many days 180,000 is in years. But if you divide that by 365 days in a year, it's 493 years to make one talent as a common worker. Four hundred and nine hundred three years times 10,000 talents mean 4.93 million years of work that was before him. He would have had to work every day of his life for 4.93 million years to pay back the King. How would he ever get close? The King knew. Even as I started to research the concept of what were the other Kings worth, even during that time, Herod, the king of the area that they were in at that time, was worth 900 talents. He was saying 10 times even what Herod has. That's how much this guy owed. Then we see that he begs on his knees. The King says, I'm going to sell you and I'm going to sell your entire family.

I'm going to sell all your possessions. It won't get it even close, but at least I'll make back some version of the money. And then you are going to live a life in slavery. You're going to be imprisoned in this slave life forever with your family. He begs and says, Please do not do this. And the Master shockingly says, Okay, I won't. I won't do it and I'll cancel your debt. Your debt will be no more. The first point that we're going to look at is the power of redemption. Do you understand the magnitude of debt that you're in? Do you understand the magnitude of debt that Jesus is describing the human being state of being in? I don't know if you listen to podcasts. One of the podcasts I like to listen to is Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is a financial adviser. And what he does sometimes is he gets people calling in with their financial situations and he gives them input. And so my favorite ones to listen to are the highest amount of debt that I've ever heard of things and him having to tease out what they need to do.

I was listening to one yesterday. The guy called in and he said, I am $750,000 in debt. And Dave goes, for what? What degree did you get? And he said I'm going to be a dentist. I'm going to make lots of money. And he goes, you don't understand how taxes and how... Even if you make the 225 that you're saying you're going to make, this is going to take decades for you to pay back. And the guy was, Well, I think if we blah blah blah, and you see Dave Ramsey, this advisor, just his head hang. And he just goes, You don't get how much debt you're in. Would you stop talking and trying to explain to me what you're going to do? You called me for a reason, didn't you? That guy goes, I guess you're right. But you hear in this guy's voice. He's this quick thinker guy. He says, I mean, really, if you think about it, with my money and her money and this how we're going to do it, we're going to be fine. No big deal. $750,000 in debt and it's only appearing this. That's a $75,000 a month payment to make it 10.

You only finish it in 10 years with zero interest. And we all know interest prices are up. As you look at the debt that you're facing, there are a lot of different responses that we can have. We can have the "avoid and deny". We don't want to look at the heap of debt. A lot of people are in credit card debt, this is how we live our lives you get in debt and you don't want to look at the payment and you just see that minimum payment amount and you go, Sweet, I know I'm $10,000 in debt, but I only have to pay $100. All right, let's roll it over next month. And we never look at the reality of the situation. Maybe that's you to avoid and deny, or we deflect. Other people are worse. They have more debt than me, or we're defensive with, You don't know my situation. You don't get why I'm in so much debt, or we just stumble and in the guilt and the shame, we have zero will to be able to combat what we're facing. There are a lot of different responses to understanding the debt that you're in, in your spiritual life.

To truly understand the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, you must feel both the crushing hopelessness of your debt and the relief of his forgiveness. The debt that you have paid, that you should be paying, should give you anxiety, a crushing feeling that you have no answers. 4.93 million years of work is too much. I can't do it. God's Word even says in Romans 6 verse 23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This idea is that you not only are in debt, but with our sin in our current state, without the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, we are continuing to rack up charges to our debt by the sinful life that we can live. Think about just what this would mean. No more vacations if you were in that debt. No more dreaming. What does that mean for your family, for their life? There's no fun. There's no breathing room in your finances, no ambition when you're in that debt. Nothing beyond just working. Too often, I think we skip to the part where God is redeeming us, and we don't allow ourselves to sit long enough to really understand and feel the debt that he saved us from.

You're hopeless without your debtor forgiving the loan. We just had Keenan Gayle get baptized on Friday. Here are some pictures here. He texted me this morning at 2:43 AM and said, I am not doing well physically right now, I'm sick, and I can't come to church this morning. But he sends his love. But there he is on Friday before he got sick. Having him get baptized on Friday, he came out from an ad on Instagram. He showed up in January, and we've been studying with him ever since. The biggest thing with Keenan has been this idea of I understand what the calling and the expectation are, but I don't know if I can actually do this. You see, there are both sides. We have to understand the crushing power of the debt, the crushing devastation of the debt, but we also have to recognize and feel the forgiving redemption that Jesus gives us. As we were talking, Keenan was really keen on the idea that I don't deserve this. He was really keen on the idea that I don't know if I can do this. Maybe as you are sitting there today, I've lathered up this point that we are big time in debt with God and you're going, Yeah, I got it, preacher.

I already knew that before I walked in the door. I feel like garbage now. Thank you very much. But he was in that boat just going, I don't know if I can do this. What we had to help him understand is that the idea of the grace that he's receiving, it's not by his perfection of never sinning again, but it's understanding that there are conditions of grace, his willingness to receive the mercy and live a life accordingly to the conditions that God lays out. That's what's required. It's not required perfection. It's not required that you never sinned again. It's required that Jesus Christ, who is the perfect sacrifice, takes your place, and that he chooses to redeem you. But you do not have mercy if you haven't followed and obeyed what he said. And so we're caught in the Christian world in this dichotomy of helping you understand the debt that you have before God, but also getting you to walk through the right door that God calls you to allow you to walk through in order to receive forgiveness on this debt. And so there's constantly this tug of war. How do you receive mercy? It's not by saying a prayer.

It's not by just accepting Jesus Christ. You'd never see that in God's Word. You never see that in the Scripture. That's not what's talked about. What is talked about is faith, repentance, and baptism. Hebrews 11, verse 6, says, And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Where does your faith journey start and not end? At your faith. Your faith, you believe, you can't please God unless you believe in Jesus Christ and earnestly seek him. What does that look like? Repentance. If you look in the Scripture in Acts 2, verse 36, we read this a lot here. And the reason we read it quite often is that the world gets so murky on how you receive salvation of your sins and forgiveness of your sins and salvation of your soul. But it says in Acts 2, verse 36, as the Pentecost is taking place and Peter is preaching to those who want to be saved, therefore, let all Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart, that is faith. You say, how is that faith? You don't get cut to the heart or moved emotionally by something you don't believe in. If I told you that your mom died and I didn't know your mom and I don't know your family and I've never been around you, you would get mad at me and go, shut up. Why are you saying that? You wouldn't be cut to the heart. I have no reason to know your mother has died. Except for if I know your family and I know your mother and I come up to you and I say, I'm so sorry. I've got to tell you, your mom has passed away. You would break down crying. Why? Because you believe what I'm saying to be true. These men and women heard that we crucified Jesus, who is Lord and Messiah, and they felt deeply cut to the heart about it. They believed. If all that was required was faith and faith alone to save them, Peter would have ended there and said, high five, guys, you're saved and you're going to heaven.

Now live a Christian life. That's not what he did. He continued on. They said, what shall we do? He says, repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for us as well, for all whom the Lord our God will call. In many other words, he warned them and pleaded with them, Save yourself from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day. This is God's plan for salvation. If you have not believed, repented, and been baptized, you biblically do not have mercy. You do not have forgiveness for your sins. You do not have the promise and the deposit of the Holy Spirit of what's to come. You are not saved. The debtor that we're talking about, the King that we're talking about is Jesus Christ, who's going to come back. God is going to judge the living and the dead. Your debt will be called at that moment.

And if you have not been pardoned as Jesus Christ, time and time and time again calls you to do because you have been stiff-necked and unwilling or just unknowledgeable and not really seeking a heart that's been so gullible to believe whatever you hear being peddled in Christian churches across America, then you will be destroyed. There needs to be a moment in each and every one of us when we are able to be crushed by the debt in order to motivate, to say, I got to get out of this. I don't want this to be my life anymore. If you're going to get out of debt in your life, it's going to take you getting angry and frustrated with where you've gotten yourself and changing your lifestyle. It's not going to happen just because you pay the minimum payment. That's not how it works. We must change our lifestyle. Many of us are so susceptible to the culture that prevents us from being in a beggar's posture. This man begged before God, said, I'll do whatever it takes, are you willing to beg? Have you ever begged in your life for God to change the circumstances that you're going through?

Others of you have done what God calls you, but you don't feel the relief. You don't feel saved. This is time and time again where the Christians were constantly wrestling with this idea of You say I'm saved, but I don't feel saved. In Revelation 12, verse 10, it reads, Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters who accuses them before our God, day and night has been hurled down. In the last days, Satan will be hurled down. What is he called? The accuser accuses the brothers and sisters day and night. Satan has a plan to accuse you, to rock your faith, to prevent you from feeling saved, even if you've done everything that God requires for you to be in good standing with him. He wants to steal that joy. I'm going to bring up Ashley to be able to share.

This concept of trying to earn your salvation is absolutely a piece of my sinful nature. And it keeps me from feeling this relief of the freedom of my redemption like he's talking about. But I love that in Revelation 12, he reaffirms that the accuser has been hurled down to the depths. This is a fact that God has overcome him. He does not have more power than God does. But it's up to me whether or not I'm going to let him accuse me each day. And this was one of those weeks for me. I can battle in my thoughts, and I felt deeply accused this week. I don't know if you've ever experienced that, that some weeks are just harder than others to believe the truths about how God feels about you, about yourself, your life, and the people around you. But it was one of those weeks for me. At the beginning of the week, I woke up happy. I wasn't feeling bad. But as the day would go on, accusations would come into my head. You're not doing enough. Your efforts are in vain. You will never achieve. You're too weak. You've already failed.

Why keep trying? You don't have enough to give. People are unhappy with you. And it can eat us alive. It can cause us to not feel this freedom that God wants us to live in. Me, as these mental battles happen, I start to get migraines. It's how my body reacts to believing the lies. I felt like I was drowning in the accusations. When this happens to me, there are consequences that come. It affects me physically, it affects my relationships. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. It's hard to take care of my kids. It affects my relationship with my husband. But I have to take responsibility for what is happening to me, that the accuser is having more power over me than the truth that God wants me to fill my mind with. This month, I'm studying the fruit of the Spirit of peace because it's something that I have not been feeling. I don't feel at peace each and every day. So I've been reading through chapters and chapters of Psalms to try to learn from this man that battled mentally with every single prayer. He would go through this journey of feeling accused, feeling attacked, and feeling overcome.

But at the end of every single Psalm, David would remember the truths that God is more powerful, that he's already overcome, and that he is on his side. And so it's been so good for me to be able to, yes, see the way that my sinful nature likes to accuse, that I allow Satan to take control of my mind at times, but that God gives us this victory. I want to call all of us to, if you've been having a hard time, just in your own spirit, in your mind, that we have this power that God wants to give us, and are we overcoming it with God's help?

If you're a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you've met the conditions of grace that we talk about and have seen in God's Word, you need to feel relief. You should be feeling the relief that comes from obedience to God's Word. Some of us, don't feel the relief, and the reason we don't feel the relief is that we continue in deliberate sin that we're not totally getting open with, that we're not dealing with. And so we could feel a sense of, Well, I'm saved, but yeah, I got some of these things that I'm not really talking about, or I'm not getting open about, or I'm not honest about, and I don't know why. I don't have a clue. I don't know why. I don't feel saved. I don't feel good before God. And the truth of the matter is that the only unforgivable sin, the only thing that can pull you away from God is you stopping repenting. If you stop fighting, that's when you give up your salvation. But if you keep fighting, if you keep wrestling, if you keep struggling, if you keep battling, if you keep getting open, if you keep confessing, if you keep talking about it, God, I need to lay this before the cross.

God will always win. Too many of us in this room that are self-professing Christians, though, have hidden sins that we don't talk about and we deliberately keep on sinning. God's word says there will be no grace left for you. Do not forfeit this relief that you've received because you're not being open with things. Keep fighting. Colossians 2, verse 9, as we close out this point, says, for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. In Christ, you have been brought to fullness. He is the head of every power and authority. In Him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh, was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith and the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us.

He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross, and having disarmed the power and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross. As you look at this passage, what is it describing? It's saying that you still didn't deserve it when Christ died on the cross. But because of his death, burial, and resurrection, you, through baptism, can connect with the power that took place on the cross, and you, too, can be absorbed in all your debt. What is stopping you? What's preventing you? If you're not a disciple of Jesus Christ, what is preventing you from getting in the water? The longest conversion was a couple of days in the Bible, and we get all contextual about this concept of, Well, but they were Jewish and they had read the scriptures for many years before, and so they knew context more. And all of that has some truth to it. But in reality, it shouldn't take us years and years before we give our life to Jesus Christ, and make the decision to repent and get baptized. Some of you are waffling right now. You are studying the Bible and you are sitting there debating between different decisions and different ideologies and doctrines when it's so clear in the scriptures what you must do.

Why won't you give it up and give your life to Christ? Why won't you stop? This is waffling. My wife, when she was growing up, her dad would call her a doddler. He's just doddling around. That meant that she just was getting distracted by things and doing other things. Often times we doddle in our faith. If you're not right with God, what is stopping you? As the story goes on in verse 28, we see the servant has been absolved of this debt, and has been redeemed from all that has happened. Look at what he does with this new lease on life. But when that servant who just had gotten freed from the debt 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. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged. Look what he says, the exact words that he had just said. Be patient with me and I will pay it back. But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

When the other servant saw what had happened, they were outraged and went out and told their master everything that happened. Then a master called the servant in. and said you, wicked servant, he said, I canceled all the debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed, which we knew was never going to happen. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. This man, he goes out, he had 4.93 million years of work. And he goes to the guy that only had 100 days of debt to him, 100 days' worth of daily wages. That's all he had. And he runs to them and he starts ringing them by the neck and going, You owe me this money. Pay me back my debt. What a disconnect. What a disconnect from what's happened. This idea that the first is the power of redemption, the power of the redeemed, the power of what God's done needs to live in our hearts.

But the second thing is the responsibility of the redeemed. Jesus is telling this parable... Now, remember the context again to Peter about how to handle people in the church. It was interesting. As I was writing this, I found myself starting to write about judgmentalness towards the world and towards people in the world. The reality of the context of the Scripture is not talking about judgmentalness or a judgmental spirit towards people in the world at all. In fact, he's talking to Peter on the heels of talking about church punishment. He's saying, How do you treat your brother and your sister in the church? What he's talking about and describing is saying that we cannot have a judgmental, condemning spirit toward our brother and sister. And yet we realize that there's a tension. There's tension because Matthew 7 says, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. In the same way, if you judge others, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye when all the time there's a plank in your own eye?

You are a hypocrite. First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Now, we read this and oftentimes we hear, do not judge or you will be judged. And we take it out of context of what it's talking about and we say you can't judge anything. The truth of the matter is there's scripture after scripture that talks about the concept that we must judge those inside the church. In fact, Jesus also says that the concept that he's describing is a judgment about the speck in someone's eye. That's still a judgment. You just have to take the huge plank out of your eye so you can actually do the work on your brother or sister who has a lesser offense. But it doesn't mean that we don't make discerning judgments about one another. We live in a culture that says, You can't judge me. You can't talk to me about what I need to change. I want you to know, if you're visiting with us, this is a church that we do not want or desire, and we don't preach having a judgmental spirit towards one another.

But we know biblically that we are called to look at and assess one another's spirituality and encourage one another to be more like Christ every single day. We're not a church that's going to say, go be warm and well-fed and take care of your needs. That's okay. Even spiritual needs, you don't need to really change. No, we're going to address it. If you're being mean to your kids and we see it, we're going to talk to you. Stop being mean to your kids. That's not good. Stop being unloving to your children and how you're parenting them. If we see that you're falling into sin and you're greedy, we're going to talk to you about your greed. Jesus talks about greed as a sin that's going to cause you to go to hell. We don't want you to go to hell and we love you. And so we're going to address those things. The concept that we're talking about right now is that we must judge, but we must judge with the right eyes. Do you judge with the eyes of mercy or condemnation? This man was freed up of so much debt, and yet his eyes were still filled with condemnation towards others, towards people that were, as Jesus likens them, his brothers and sisters, close friends, and connections.

That he looked at people and said, I despise you. I want to get the money back from you. The debt that you owe me is so great. I see the sin. I see the problems. I don't mind my huge debt. I want to look at yours and deal with you. Jesus says, Take the plank out of your eye. But you still need to take the speck out of theirs. You still need to have an assessment of what's going on. It's very different, though, when your heart is in a different spot. I don't know how you exit on the highway, okay? But if you go down from 93 on Sturo Drive, then always during traffic is a hard time to get into the lane that's one lane to get on Sturo Drive. Some of you during exit lanes, especially during the traffic times, getting into the exit lane, I don't know if you're the one that is a rule follower and goes to the back of the line. Some, though, are the ones that cut everybody else. I would be of the variety that cuts everybody else. What I've learned, though, is that you cut everybody else.

And if you do that, you're going to see a lot of people flipping you the bird, a lot of honks, a lot of angry people. People's blood pressure goes up around you often when you do that. They have choice words for you, especially in Boston. It's a very colorful language that they use about you and who you are and your intelligence. But if you go behind somebody that is breaking in and doing the same thing and they cut somebody off, then you know they are feeling relief of the stress of getting in that lane and you can cut them off and there's never honking from that person because they just broke in and they were scared that they were going to crash, that something was going to happen, that they weren't going to make their exit. When they cut off somebody, then you know I can cut them off and nothing's going to happen to me. A hundred % of the time, those people are relaxing now. They're in the lane, they made it, they didn't die, they got to exit. In our spiritual lives, it's very much the same way that once you are in touch with how much you've been saved from, the church family looks a lot better.

The church family looks pretty amazing, actually. When you realize that you've been saved from an immense amount of dead, you look at people and you go, Aren't they awesome? Aren't they incredible? Aren't they so filled with God's Spirit? However, when you lose touch, when you forget what you've been saved from, then criticalness comes in. Especially if you're one of those people that went in the back of the line and you've been waiting for the exit, and now you see other people cut in, you ever see the people that almost crash trying to keep you out of the exit lane? They feel justified, Hey, I did it the right way. You don't deserve to get in here. Too many Christians have a spirit about them and an air about them that says, You don't deserve the mercy or grace that I'm getting. The way you're living, the way you're talking, the way you're doing this Christian life. Again, remember, in the church as disciples, you don't deserve the same level of grace. Be very careful how you judge because you yourself will be judged in the same manner. How in touch are you with the debt that you've been forgiven of that will give you clear insight into understanding the level of grace that you need to give.

I'm going to bring up Ashley to share one more time.

I appreciate him asking this question, am I out of touch with what God has done in my life? I can easily walk around pretty out of touch because when you've grown up in something, it's all that you know. You don't have a comparison necessarily of what God has rescued you from. I grew up in this church and really have felt the provision of God through the family I grew up in, but now it's also the family that I'm raising. And the older I've gotten, I've realized that I was born into something that I like to call kingdom privilege because I have never had to grow up in the world with its hurts, with its sufferings, with the level of pain that so many of the people that I walk by every day have had to go through. And the hardship that I face and the suffering that I go through is really nothing in comparison to that. But if I don't recognize the privilege that I have and that I have grown up with, I will not see clearly the responsibility that God has given me because of the debt He's paid for me that I must live out every single day for the rest of my life.

Romans 13, verse 8 says, Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. For whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Reading this, I truly feel like this is the calling that God has given me. There is nothing that I did to be born into the family that I was, to be able to learn about God from an early age. But this is the calling that he's put before me, that I have a continuing debt to love one another deeply. What's helped me get in touch with these privileges is sitting in a Bible study with someone for them to open up their lives and hear the things and the hardships that they have gone through that I have never had to fear, that I would never have to go through. It softens my heart. It breaks my heart to be able to look at them and look at the things that they have overcome because God has rescued them. He has brought them to those places. But what it does to my heart is it helps me to see there are so many thousands and millions of people that God has placed in my life for me to love and to pour out my life for.

And so for me to just be out of touch and be focused on the hardships that I'm going through, it's not good enough. My heart must change. And I believe it's why God allows us to have these interactions. There are people in this room that have been saved but have overcome lives of suffering and hurt and hardship of things happening to them that they didn't deserve, but they are here for us to learn from, and to connect to. Our friendship and our love and our how are you, I want to learn about your life going so far. It's the design that God has for his church, for us to be united and for us to love one another deeply and understand the responsibility we hold.

In the context of the passage, the man, he puts his friend, his person that's in debt to him, he puts them in prison. He puts him in jail. If you think about the context of the passage, what Jesus is referring to is an emotional jail in that we can put people in our relationships in the Church. You think about that, it's a weird context of who have I put into jail in my heart. Who have I put into jail and not shown mercy towards? Are there people in the room that you say, I'm going to sit in a certain spot? I'm not going to sit next to so and so. I know where they usually sit and I don't want to be by them. I have tried and tried and tried and there's been no effect and so I'm giving up on them now. I'm going to put them in relationship jail. I'm not going to spend time with them anymore. I'm giving up. Jesus, as he's teaching Peter how to forgive the brothers and sisters that he's interacting with as he's wielding this power of a redeemed person, he's saying, You cannot put these people in jail.

Look at what you've been saved from. You must have an open heart. Do I say seven times? No, 77 times. Keep forgiving, keep loving, keep going back, keep drawing them out, keep helping them. Who have you put in jail? Who are you bitter towards? Who are you holding grudges against? Who are you unwilling to resolve things with? Jesus is saying, Yeah, we must make assessments, but you can't put these people in jail. Look at what you deserve. If you have bitterness towards people, and unforgiving things in your life, you are out of touch with the debt that Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. You are out of touch with the forgiveness that you've received. We must gain an understanding from this passage. It ends with a cautionary tale that that man who was unforgiving to the brothers and sisters, was unforgiving to the person that had debt, and the debt came back. What does that mean? If you do not forgive others, the Father will not forgive you. If you don't get resolved, there will be issues with your salvation. Let us understand the power of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Let us understand the power of redemption and let us hold to the responsibility that comes from being redeemed.

Amen.

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