The Mercy Seat
Lord, thank You that You are always extending to us, inviting us back to Yourself.
In what way is this a demonstration of mercy?
The church is a family. Consider how a family behaves when one of its members goes through a crisis. The church is also closer than a family--it's a body, each part connected (1 Cor. 12:26). Why then might it be necessary for a body to exclude its own members (cf. Matt. 18:6-9)?
Sin wrecks churches. A little sin can ruin a lot (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6), dimming a church's impact as a light to the world. As Tim Keller puts it, "Beneath any particular sin is the general sin of rejecting Christ's salvation and attempting our own self-salvation." But we needn't fear being ejected from our church simply for sinning. On that basis, no one would be left! Those who are excluded have already cut themselves off from the body by refusing to listen to what it's trying to tell them (17). The authority Jesus bestowed on the church must nevertheless be exercised in prayerful dependence on God (18,19).
How do we see God's mercy in the way sinners are disciplined (15-17,19)? Naturally, we're reluctant to challenge our friends' conduct, but it could be a vital step in their experiencing the life-giving, transformative power of the Gospel.
Do you understand how seriously the decision of one affects the whole? Journal about this.
You are merciful, true and just. Only by Your Spirit can we learn to truly live in mercy, truth, and justice.