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A Caring Community    Matt. 18:6-7, 10-22    Nov. 04, 2007

    Do most people in your community think your church is a caring community of believers? In my opinion many non-Christians have seen so many church disagreements they don't want any part of the church.  Everyone of us must do what we can to establish A Caring Community through our churches.

1.  Caring Through . . Influence.

The . . Initiation Of Offensive Influence. 18:6a
6 "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me --

    B.    The . . Incredible Affect Of Offensive Influence. 18:6b
          It would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!

    C.    The . . Inevitability Of Offensive Influence. 18:7
to the world because of offenses. For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom
the offense comes.

<>    Children can be influenced for good, and all of us ought to use what ever influence we control to initiate that action. Jesus spoke about an incredible penalty on any who cause the downfall of a young believer. What a tragic pronouncement from our Lord for actions that hinder a child. Realistically Jesus tells us offenses will inevitably come, and it seems to me some even delight in being offensive. A caring influence cannot be built and broadened with that attitude.

2.     Caring Through . . Involvement. 18:10-14
    A.    T
he . . Intentional Involvement. 18:10-
that you don't look down on one of these little ones, because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of My Father in heaven." [ 11 For the Son of Man has come to save the lost.]

    B.    The . . Illustration Of Involvement. 18:12-13
        12 What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, won't he leave the 99 on the hillside and go and search for the stray? 13 And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep more than over the 99 that did not go astray.

    C.    The . . Intelligent Involvement. 18:14
        14 In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

    God has angels intentionally involved as they watch over little children, and so should we. The idea of guardian angels is supported from this verse as it says; "their angels." The Lord loves children and we need to emulate His love. Jesus illustrated His concern for children by telling of a shepherd's concern for one sheep who went astray. Intelligent reasoning follows the Lord's illustration. I heard a minister on television share he was reached by a church that had a bus ministry, and how he led a man who claimed to be an atheist to the Lord who is now involved in a bus ministry. Our caring might become contagious!

3.    Caring Through . . Interaction. 18:15-20
       A.    T
he . . Private Interaction. 18:15-16
Restoring a Brother "If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to
you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won't listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established.

        B.    The . . Public Interaction. 18:17
            7 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn't pay attention even to the church, let   
him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.

        C.    The . . Pleasing Interaction. 18:18-20
I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them."

<>    Some caring must begin in a private interaction as we go and confront another Christian who sinned against us. We must demonstrate a caring attitude. If this person will not pay attention then take two others with you from your church, if that does not work we take it before the entire church. In my opinion the Lord emphasizing the local church. People need to be involved in a caring local church that will help them in their spiritual concerns. A caring action that pleases the Lord occurs when we agree with His leading in what is bound or loosed. We can only know this through a meaningful walk with the Lord. If we walk with the Lord He will guide our wants, and we will not be asking for things for which two Christians cannot agree.

4.    Caring Through . . Indulgence. 18:21-22

    A.    The . . Bearing Of Indulgence. 8:21
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"

    B.    The . . Burden Of Indulgence. 18:22
            22 "I tell you, not as many as seven," Jesus said to him, "but 70 times seven. (HCSB)

        Simon Peter wanted to be justified for his ideas of indulgence related to forgiving others. The bearing of a need to forgive must have been bothering him or a friend, and he wanted a pleasing answer. I don't think he thought forgiving 70 times seven was reasonable. Most of us would not do well at forgiving 70 times seven. We are not that indulgent. Is the Lord in this text teaching more about a principle than a number? Have you and I been forgiven by the Lord for similar sins more than 490 times? We become A Caring Community as we witness others being forgiving, and learning from them. Amen? Amen!