Jeremiah 4 & Matthew 18

Jeremiah 4

    “If you return, O Israel,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD,
        to me you should return.
    If you remove your detestable things from my presence,
        and do not waver,
    and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’
        in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
    then nations shall bless themselves in him,
        and in him shall they glory.”
        For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

    “Break up your fallow ground,
        and sow not among thorns.
    Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;
        remove the foreskin of your hearts,
        O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
    lest my wrath go forth like fire,
        and burn with none to quench it,
        because of the evil of your deeds.”
        Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,

    “Blow the trumpet through the land;
        cry aloud and say,
    ‘Assemble, and let us go
        into the fortified cities!’
    Raise a standard toward Zion,
        flee for safety, stay not,
    for I bring disaster from the north,
        and great destruction.
    A lion has gone up from his thicket,
        a destroyer of nations has set out;
        he has gone out from his place
    to make your land a waste;
        your cities will be ruins
        without inhabitant.
    For this put on sackcloth,
        lament and wail,
    for the fierce anger of the LORD
        has not turned back from us.”
        “In that day, declares the LORD, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”

    At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who speak in judgment upon them.”

    Behold, he comes up like clouds;
        his chariots like the whirlwind;
    his horses are swifter than eagles—
        woe to us, for we are ruined!
    O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil,
        that you may be saved.
    How long shall your wicked thoughts
        lodge within you?
    For a voice declares from Dan
        and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim.
    Warn the nations that he is coming;
        announce to Jerusalem,
    “Besiegers come from a distant land;
        they shout against the cities of Judah.
    Like keepers of a field are they against her all around,
        because she has rebelled against me,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD.
    Your ways and your deeds
        have brought this upon you.
    This is your doom, and it is bitter;
        it has reached your very heart.”
        My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
        Oh the walls of my heart!
    My heart is beating wildly;
        I cannot keep silent,
    for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
        the alarm of war.
    Crash follows hard on crash;
        the whole land is laid waste.
    Suddenly my tents are laid waste,
        my curtains in a moment.
    How long must I see the standard
        and hear the sound of the trumpet?
    “For my people are foolish;
        they know me not;
    they are stupid children;
        they have no understanding.
    They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
        But how to do good they know not.”
    I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
        and to the heavens, and they had no light.
    I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
        and all the hills moved to and fro.
    I looked, and behold, there was no man,
        and all the birds of the air had fled.
    I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
        and all its cities were laid in ruins
        before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
        For thus says the LORD, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

    “For this the earth shall mourn,
        and the heavens above be dark;
    for I have spoken; I have purposed;
        I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”
    At the noise of horseman and archer
        every city takes to flight;
    they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
        all the cities are forsaken,
        and no man dwells in them.
    And you, O desolate one,
    what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
        that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
        that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
    In vain you beautify yourself.
        Your lovers despise you;
        they seek your life.
    For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
        anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
    the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
        stretching out her hands,
    “Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.”

(Jeremiah 4 ESV)

Matthew 18

    At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

    “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 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. 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.”

    Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

(Matthew 18 ESV)

Matthew 18: Our appreciation for the forgiveness of our sins can be directly measured by how graciously we forgive those who have wronged us. That's a startling thought. We ought to be so moved and humbled by God's amazing grace that it becomes impossible for men to offend us. A heart that is not quick to extend grace and mercy to others reveals a heart that has not yet properly understood God's amazing grace.

We often fail to see the immeasurable debt that our sinfulness has created. Not that we need to miserably dwell on our own sinfulness, but we do need a proper perspective of our sin in order to see the immeasurable depths of God's love and grace towards us. The receipt of God's gracious forgiveness for our immeasurable debt obligates us to extend a limitless forgiveness to others. How often am I to keep extending forgiveness to my brother who sins against me? As a recipient of amazing grace, there is no limit. 

Why is it the default tendency of man to quickly forget what has been done for him? It’s far easier for me to reflect on the things that I want to have rather than the things I have. May we not forget the cross so easily. May we freely give as we have been freely given. May God's grace make us un-offendable.