The picture above was my idea and conveys a point that I think stinks, as far as I understand the Bible; and thanks to Kevin Stace for letting Eric, Brandy, and I use this photo for the Lord. Over the past few years, I have seen a guy fired for looking at pornography “one time” on a ministry computer. Was he wrong? Sure! But, to lose his means of income after doing it one time, I do not think so! Another man quit a job after an argument with those he worked with. It was a Christian organization and he asked for forgiveness six times but it could not be resolved. This man’s wife worked there as well and was let go because of her husband even though she did nothing wrong. They were not handled correctly according to Scripture from the beginning of the situation and were asked to leave the ministry. There were those who asked why, but none of the answers followed what the Bible teaches us. This one cost me my job, as I worked with them and my wife Linda was smart and bold enough to be someone who asked why? Since I would not allow someone to treat me the way they treated her, I said, and the Bible backs me up, “I will not let you do that to my wife” [Eph. 5:25–33; 1 Pet. 3:7]. I resigned because of how they treated my wife over her asking a question.
This topic is one which nobody wants to talk about. I would like to bring God into this. I think all this will fit together well when we see what the Bible says. God is love; we have this verse at the top of our website:
1 John 4:8 (NIV)1
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
God, does not just love, He “IS” love. Later in this same Chapter it says it again!
1 John 4:16 (NIV)
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
The last part of that verse says: “…Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” So if we live in love, we live in Him, and He lives in us! Now that is something I think we all should want! I want to live in God and have Him live in me, but that only happens if we “live in love!” We have an article on this love titled: “Super Compassionate Devotional Love,” but it only scratches the surface of this very large subject in God’s wonderful Word. If you would like to read it, click on the title. Love, compassion, grace, and mercy are scattered throughout the Christian Scriptures and need to be used in every situation, every day.
I do not want this to turn into a long article so I am cutting some things out. The Bible, we believe, contains everything which pertains to life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
The answers to life and the things which happen are either done God’s way or the Adversaries way. Since the world’s ways usually follow the Evil One’s ways, then we need to look for answers which work, and that is always God’s way. There is a verse in the King James Version which always has blessed me.
Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Most English versions read something very similar and right in the middle it reads: “forgiving one another.” This is in Ephesians, which is a doctrinal Epistle written to Christians. I looked throughout the Church Epistles written to Christians [Romans through Thessalonians] looking for more on this forgiveness and dealing with someone who had done wrong. Here is one, which I found, to think about.
2 Corinthians 2:5–10 (NIV)
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
Many times when someone sins, a lot of people know about it and treat that person badly [that is sufficient for him], but we should reaffirm our love for him/her and forgive him/her. I do not feel that is how either of those situations I shared at the beginning of this article were handled. Let us read this next verse.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Did that say: “forgive whatever grievances?” Yes it did! Sounds like forgiveness here is very important and even though it does not mention love, knowing the context of verse 12 [which is right before this one], it reads:
Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Today, we are God’s chosen people [not the Jews, they rejected Christ], holy and dearly loved [that happens when you love, remember 1 John 4:16 above], clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. In other words, cover yourself with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience when dealing with people. This brings us to the forgiveness of verse 13 above. The first part is so important: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. How can you be doing that with “zero tolerance” especially if someone is asking for forgiveness? Many times a clearer picture can be seen by looking at what was written in the past. Take a look at this verse.
Romans 15:4 (NIV)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
So we can learn from what was written in the past, which is what was written before Romans. I would like to explain a couple things. We teach that it is important to get “to whom it is written correct.” There are eight Administrations in Scripture and everything written to one Administration is not necessarily written for you to apply in your life. We live in the fifth Administration, called the Grace Administration, or the Administration of the Secret of God. We do not sacrifice animals as was done in the last Administration, called the Law Administration, nor do we Tithe to the Levitical Priest, etc. Yet we need to understand some rules transcend Administrations. Marriage was a Creation Ordinance and still applies today. We are going to discuss another such rule—actually a few such rules.
The commands or rules we are going to look at were written in the Gospels and apply to the Jews, but they do not contradict anything written to us Christians, so still apply to us. Look at this in Matthew, we will be reading several sections here in Chapter 18.
Matthew 18:15 (NIV)
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
If we have a problem with someone because he/she has sinned against us, we should go talk to him/her one on one [JUST between the two of you]! Many times people never go and talk just between the two of you; they start by bringing someone with them. Is that what it says? No! So, do not make up your own rules, follow what the Lord says. Listen to the last part: If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Now, would that bless you? It would me! Let us look at the next verse, it tells us what to do if that person will not listen.
Matthew 18:16 (NIV)
But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
This was taken from Deuteronomy 19:15, and means what it says. If this person will not listen, take one or two along, so EVERY matter may be established by the testimony of two or three. If you take one or two, that would make two or three witnesses when you count yourself. Should you take five? No! Why? First it is against the Bible, and second, at least for me, I would feel like a cornered wild animal, which would make me feel very uncomfortable and hurt by people I trusted; even if I was wrong, bringing five to witness would also be wrong. That is what happened with the man who resigned and his wife let go. He was cornered by five people the next day. After that, in the weeks, then months, that followed, he asked for forgiveness six times. Never was he handled according to the love we are supposed to live by, nor was he forgiven. I have more to say on this, but let us look at the next verse.
Matthew 18:17 (NIV)
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
This next step is interesting because it has rarely been done. If he refuses to listen to them [to the two or three], tell it to the church. What happens mostly is they sweep it under the rug and no one ever hears about it. Why, because they failed to follow the Word of God and do what it says to the end. Many of those who read my articles know about these situations I am referring to, but few know the outcome. Why, because it was never told to the church. Had it been, and people spoke into it, I feel the outcome would have been different. So, what did they do to this man and wife? They gave them the boot.
[Note; I will interject here that one time in one of the ministries I have served in, it was taken to the second step. Problem was few were listening to the words spoken in the Bible, and when a man said he would now have to bring it before the church, the response was incredibly sad. One man stood up and said, “That is a threat,” and another stated: “That is blackmail.” Where were their heads? They were certainly not in the “Word of God” but in the “world of our Adversary!”]
They skipped treating them like a pagan or tax collector. Many think that is having nothing to do with them, but we do not think that! Truthfully, I think Jesus in his dealing with these kinds of people would have handled it to the point of working with them and loving them every time he saw them. Why do I say that? Jesus hung out with those kinds of people, and one, we know, was a Jewish tax collector working for the Roman authorities in Galilee. This tax collector, Matthew, got the revelation to write the book of Matthew, which I have been teaching from and who became one of Jesus’ disciples [Matt. 10:3]. Jesus set the standard for walking in love and forgiveness towards everyone! Jesus hung out with sinners, not the righteous. I am not saying he was never with righteous people, but he spent most of his time with sinners so he could help them. I would like to have you look at several verses from the Gospels showing Jesus’ attitude about the righteous and sinners.
Mark 2:17 (NIV)
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Luke 5:31 and 32 (NIV)
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Matthew 9:13 (NIV)
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Luke 15:7 (NIV)
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Jesus loved everyone but knew the sinners needed what he was offering them. So when it said: “…treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector,” that cannot mean what most teach, i.e., have nothing to do with them! If that were so, then explain Matthew? I am sure he did not go out of his way to spend time with those he had dealt with to this point. If those people still wanted to hang out with him, then he would [and we should] go ahead and do that, as long as it does not stop him [you] from sharing the Truth. I could go on and on, but it is time to get into the meat of this topic. Skip down to these verses.
Matthew 18:21 and 22 (NIV)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The Greek texts reads: seventy times seven, which is how many Bibles translate it, such as RSV, ASV, BBE, ESV, and many more. Even the notes in my NIV Study Bible say seventy times seven and we agree. So, here we see we should forgive someone seventy times seven. That is a bunch of times. I told you that the one guy asked for forgiveness six times yet it fell on deaf ears. This, as we know, is not what Jesus would do, nor did, in his earthly ministry. Are there any verses in the Church Epistles that say this is not how we should do it? No! Therefore, we should follow what it says in Matthew. There are many verses on forgiveness. Let us look at a couple. Do not forget 2 Corinthians 2:10 above.
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
This seems like an incredible way to live. Then why are we not living that way? This theme of forgiveness carries on in the Bible and there are many more verses than we will cover. Look at this verse.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Both of these last two verses teach we are to forgive one another, and that is a great way to show us walking in love. After all, take a real good look at yourself; did he accept you, even though you were a sinner? He sure did! Look at Saul [he became Paul, and was walking so well, Jesus gave him every book from Romans through Hebrews to write]; Jesus called and forgave him who was a murderer of Christians. Anyone who sins against you needs your love and forgiveness. Also, by kicking someone out, where will they go? If what we are offering is truly the love God poured out in us when we received the gift of holy spirit, then we should be manifesting it to others. Keeping them around and forgiving them and loving them will help them more than throwing them out with your dirty dish water. You have love in you, use it! If you do not believe that, read this.
Romans 5:5 (NIV)
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love [agape] into our hearts by the Holy Spirit [holy spirit], whom [which] he has given us.
What does that say: “…God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit [holy spirit], whom [which] he has given us.” WOW! Our God did that? He sure did! The book of Romans goes on to say: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another….” Then we best work at loving, especially if that is something I owe you and you owe me!
Romans 13:8 (NASB)2
Owe nothing to anyone except to love [agapao] one another; for he who loves [agapao] his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Was I right? Yes! So, let us get to loving! This next point I could really elaborate on but I wrote a leadership article explaining it. See: “Put God First, but After That, Who Is Next?,” it will explain the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself! This is very important and really needs to be studied and lived on a daily basis!
Romans 13:9 (NASB)
For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love [agapao] your neighbor as yourself.”
All these I have quoted are from Romans and there are more in Romans as well as the rest of the Christian Scriptures—love is a massive topic.
Therefore, with all we know, if someone sins against us, they should stay right here, if they want to, to let us love and teach and help them. Kicking them out goes against how my Lord lived. We need to look at how we are handling people. Is it God’s way or the Adversary’s way? We need to use wisdom and the Truth of the Word in handling every situation. Please follow the guidelines Jesus taught. I have seen many ministries destroyed because of a lack of love and forgiveness.
So, the only thing I have Zero Tolerance for is Zero Tolerance! Please join in with us in forgiveness and love and live as Jesus wants us to. Do not be afraid to hang out and share the Word with anyone, no matter what kind of person they are, or what they believe, or what kind of lifestyle they live! Every person, regardless of anything they have done, can be loved, forgiven, and become a part of the Church, his Body. There is no formula which states, "Once you talk to someone and they do not listen, walk away." Why? See this verse which I am sure Jesus knew.
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
I am sure Jesus knew that God’s Word would: “…accomplish what I [God] desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” So, he would have expected results from his labor of love! I do not think he would give up on most of the people he dealt with and deals with today. See our article: “Hey Jesus, What Are You Doing With the Church Today?” Let us “Live Love with Jesus” and be forgiving of folks too! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it, and have a great day. Coming soon Part Two!