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Pride that Stumbles Others

Leads to Destruction

(Chapter 18, verses 1-11)

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       (1) Shortly after this exchange, the disciples approached Jesus and said: "Earlier you mentioned ‘earthly kings.' Since you brought up kingly power and authority, who, in fact, is the greatest among the ‘heavenly kings' in the superior kingdom of the heavens?" (2) [Other people with children were around when the disciples asked this question], so Jesus called a humble, cooperative, unassuming little boy and put him right in the middle of his disciples (3) and said: "Unless you make a complete about face, that's right, a 180 degree turn in your prideful attitudes and become as humble and unassuming as little boys, you most assuredly will not be permitted entrance into the kingdom of the heavens to find who's the greatest there. (4) Having said this, now I'll answer your question more directly. In contrast to those prideful ‘earthly kings,' whoever humbles himself like this particular little boy is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens; (5) and welcoming in my name any follower of mine who is humble just like him is the same as welcoming me. (6) But whoever scandalously stumbles a humble, faithful, childlike follower of mine would be better off doing these six things: [1] make or buy a piece of rope, [2] tie it around an incredibly large, heavy stone (the kind that a donkey pulls around to crush grain into flour), [3] tie said stone around his neck, [4] hire some men to load him and the stone on a ship big enough to accommodate the stone, [5] sail out far away from shore, [6] and then have a good number of men push the stone with the man tied to it into the heart of the sea so as to plunge quickly to his death, never to be seen again.

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       (7) "There's going to be trouble due to scandalous behavior within my ever-growing world of disciples! It's to be expected because of the tendency toward pride that'll lead some men--particularly those in authority--to develop into wolves in sheep's clothing. But, cursed is the animalistic man through whom the scandal comes! (8) So, if there is something seriously flawed about your outgoing personality that is as dear to you as the external extremities of your hand or foot that's causing the scandal, with the delicate precision of a surgeon-therapist, cut it out of you; it's better for you to embrace eternal life missing a favorite part of your personality as represented by a limb or appendage than to be hurled being the ‘Total Me' or full-bodied into the symbolic fire that roars forever. (9) If the source of scandal is a more internal part of your personality--say, like an eye--rip it unceremoniously out of its socket and throw it away from you; for it's better for you to see your way clearly to everlasting life absent that more internal part of your personality than to be lofted with a pair of spiritually blind eyes into the fiery Gehenna. (10) Speaking of eyes, watch out that you men do not loathe these little ones. Why? Because they have serious heavenly connections: their own celestial angels who gaze upon the very face of my heavenly Father. (11) --

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God Demonstrates Love

for Lost Sheep

(Chapter 18, verses 12-14)

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       (12) "What lesson can you learn from the following scenario? Let's say a man comes into possession of a hundred sheep, and after counting them carefully he realizes that one has strayed off. Out of great concern, don't you think he'd leave the ninety-nine--with their security in numbers--there, on the mountaintop and set off in search for the scared, lonely missing one? (13) If after vigorous searching for awhile he finds it, believe me when I say that he's happier about finding that one than the secured ninety-nine. (14) It's the same with my heavenly Father; He doesn't want any of his seemingly insignificant followers to be lost and thereafter perish.

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Procedural Steps for When a

Brother Sins Against You

(Chapter 18, verses 15-20)

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       (15) "If, like an errant sheep that's strayed, your brother sins against you, reprove him. Yes, show him where he's wrong in private. If he responds as he should, good. You've won him over. (16) But if not, recruit one or two others to take along with you as you speak again to him, exposing yet again his error for all to see. The Scriptural requirement of having two or three witnesses is then met. (17) If he refuses to listen to these disinterested third parties, report the matter to the elders, who represent the congregation. If he refuses to listen to the body of elders as congregation representatives, then treat him no longer as a brother Jew who's a follower of mine. Treat him like a non-Jew who wants nothing to do with discipleship. Treat him like a despised tax-collector. (18) I'm telling you the truth, if you men follow these procedural steps, whether you convict (bind) or pardon (loose) a congregant of spiritual impropriety, the action will have already taken place in heaven. (19) This truth bears repeating: If a couple of you responsible elders on earth agree on a judicial matter where involved parties have made a request, the results of the judicial meeting will be adhered to with divine approval due to the elders having followed divine procedures established by my heavenly Father. (20) Because where two or three elders who by divine influence have been led together to meet on a judicial matter in my name, it's as if I'm right there with them."

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 Jesus Gives Forgiveness ‘Limit'

(Chapter 18, verses 21-22)

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       (21) Then Peter approached and asked: "Lord, how many times am I to go through this procedure (possibly involving a congregational judicial committee of elders) when my brother sins against me? How many times should I personally forgive him once it has been determined that he was actually in the wrong? As many as seven times? (22) Jesus replied: "I'm telling you, not, ‘As many as seven times,' but as many as seventy-seven times.

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Jesus Illustrates Heartfelt Forgiveness

(Chapter 18, verses 23-35)

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       (23) "In connection with forgiving your brother, the kingdom of the heavens can be likened to a man, who's also a king, that wanted to reconcile his accounts with his slaves. (24) As he began balancing his books, a man was brought before him who owed thousands upon thousands of lifetimes of labor. (25) Since there was no way he could repay what he owed, his master ordered him, his wife, and his children--the entire family-t-o be sold, along with all their belongings, so at least a payment could be made. (26) But the slave threw himself to the ground and began groveling, begging, ‘Please be patient with me and I'll pay all that I owe you.' (27) The master surrendered to sorrow, so much so that he let the slave off, cancelling his debt.

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       (28) "But that same slave left there looking for a fellow slave who owed him just over three months' worth of work. Grabbing him, he started strangling his fellow slave, demanding, ‘Give me my money!' (29) His co-laborer fell to his knees and began begging him, imploring, ‘Please be patient with me and I'll pay all that I owe you.' (30) However, he refused. Instead, he arranged for his incarceration until he could get his money. (31) This really bothered the other slaves who witnessed everything, so they went and explained what had transpired to their master. (32) Then his master sent for him and said, ‘Wicked slave, I dismissed your daunting debt when you begged me. (33) Shouldn't you have turned around and shown the same spirit of mercy to your fellow slave that I showed you?'  (34) Exhibiting righteous indignation, his master had him taken into custody until the entire debt could be paid. (35) In the same way, my heavenly Father will deal with all of you if each of you doesn't sincerely and honestly forgive his brother from the heart.

To Matthew Chapter 19