Today we will wrap up (maybe) our series on tough love. Let’s explore the last step in Jesus’ instructions.
Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Jesus put teeth to this by endorsing this action. Check this out.
v. 18-20 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Lots can be said about that. Suffice it to say that if his instructions are followed to that point, he is fully behind the action. So, what is that action? What does he mean by “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”? I’m not going to spend a great deal of time analyzing this to death. There is no need. Remember the woman at the well?
John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Now, the little research I have done on this brings up articles saying that Jesus was different in that he treated Gentiles and tax collectors with love and mercy and was inclusive of them when nobody else would be. That, they say, is how we are supposed to be. Is that how Jesus was? Did he actually open his arms to these? I would say yes, but only to the repentant ones. Think about it. Some people he treated very harshly.
John 2:15a And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple.
It’s nonsense to think that Jesus treated the unrepentant the same as he treated the forgiven. Was he kind? Of course. Was he loving? Of course. Did he welcome the sinner once he became repentant? Of course. But, it is a mistake to think that Jesus forgot all about justice in his efforts to be hospitable. After all, isn’t there a place especially made for the unrepentant sinner? It’s called the lake of fire. When we really get to thinking about Godly justice, we should be terrified.
Which gets back to our whole issue of the one who sins in the home. Our failure is in dealing with the problem. We don’t see the problem as we should, and we don’t act decisively about it until it’s too late, if at all. Recall what Paul said to the Corinthians regarding their tolerance of sin.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of this world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler, not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
We cannot get around the serious nature of this, so let’s not think that Jesus meant everything was all hunky-dory when he said to treat the sinner like a Gentile or tax collector.
Looks like we’ll need to continue this tomorrow. We’re getting into real meat.
Father, this is for someone. Keep unfolding your teaching. Amen.