One of the reasons my professional reading has slowed down is that I’m purposely taking in more video content. As I grow in my professional life, I want to learn in as many ways as possible. I will often take in videos of others pastors’ sermons. I want to grow in my preaching ability, and this is one way to do it. And this morning, I watched this video:
This one hurt me. A lot.
In case you aren’t able to watch the video, here’s how it begins: The pastor asks, “Have you ever seen Matthew 18 happen? Have you ever belonged to a church where they actually followed this part of the Bible?”
He related a story where a pastor said they would start keeping Matthew 18, and his church asked him to leave. Because it’s scary.
So, what’s Matthew 18?
When your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault. Just between the two of you. Not judging him, but because you love him. Because you don’t want him going to hell, because he has chosen to love his sin and deny what God says about his sin. If he listens… show him Jesus.
And if he still says his sin is more valuable, go with one or two others. Show him that you’re not the weirdo here. Show him that what he’s doing is that serious. And if he listens… show him Jesus.
And if he still says no, I want this sin more than I want forgiveness, I want what I get with this sin more than I want Jesus’s promises of heaven, I value this sin more than I value God himself, then go and tell the church. Mourn over this person. Ask if anyone has more information, or has a connection that they can talk to this person. And if that person listens… show him Jesus.
But if he still doesn’t listen, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. And how did Jesus treat them? He loved them. He spent time with them. But he never, ever let them think that they were good with God when they weren’t. The goal was always, always to put them in touch with forgiveness.
And as this sermon went on, I thought of… this man. That woman. These people.
I have failed. This shepherd has failed over and over again. I have run away from being a good shepherd. I’ve said I was too busy. Or I knew how it would end. I have let people slip away from God’s Word. I have allowed people to think that their sin and their Savior can be held in the same hands and loved in the same heart.
And in this sermon, I was the one called to repentance. I have not loved the people our God has given me to love. I have loved approval and business and praise more than I’ve loved the souls that Jesus died for.
I have sinned.
And as I sit here typing, my first impulse is to say, “And I’m going to do better.”
But… that’s putting the fruit before the vine.
Doing better isn’t wrong. Wanting to serve God well is certainly good. But before I am enabled to do that… I need God’s forgiveness. Confession isn’t just admitting that what I have done is wrong.
It is seeing that Jesus did better for me. He obeyed for me. And he died for me.
I need to go spend some time with my Savior and see this miracle.
And then… then, when I know how loved I am, when I see that I am forgiven that much, when I am empowered to see how loved these others are…
…then, and only then, can fruit come. Only then can I share Jesus.