Why Relationships are Important – Part 2
Three very important promises are given in Matthew 18. Any promise of God is important, but when I look at these three in particular I realize that these are things that we need to pay careful attention to.
Matthew 18:18-20 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
The whole 18th chapter of Matthew is talking about relationships. If we are going to live in a community (and the church is a community) then this is the chapter that we should pay careful attention to.
Matthew 18:15-17 talks about the need for reconciliation. Verses 21 to the end of the chapter are talking about perpetual forgiveness. However, what is interesting is that between verse 17 and verse 21 we have verses 18-20. The question that comes to my mind is: Why did the Holy Spirit insert these three verses between reconciliation and forgiveness in the context of our relationships with one another in this community that we call the church?
These three verses are ‘conditional’ promises. The condition is whether reconciliation as well as forgiveness is taking place so that we might claim these powerful promises.
The first promise in verse 18 is talking about the power to bind and release. What are we to bind and release? It would seem to me that we are to bind the enemy and release souls. As Isaiah said: “Set the captives free.” Isn’t this the task of the church?
When I think of the world that we live in, the task of the church is very clear. With the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist world we realize that many are locked in their religious prisons. God said in Matthew 28 that all authority is given to us – to GO! We have that authority, but it is conditional upon our relationships working right. Satan knows this and he will do everything in his power to stop us using broken relationships in the way.
The second promise is talking about collective prayer being answered. We all intellectually know that God answers prayer. The question comes: Why don’t we have more prayer in our own individual lives as well as more collective prayer? I think one of the reasons for this is that prayer does not seem real to us. We do not pray because we do not see real answers to prayers, and the reason we do not see answers to prayer is because our relationships are not right.
Peter brings this out regarding the husband and wife relationship. 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
What can hinder our prayers as husbands? Not being in the right relationship with our wives. Often Jesus said that when we stand praying and have something against our brother that we should first get it right with our brother, so that our Father in heaven might forgive us and our prayers not be hindered. Scripture says that if I hide sin in my life the Lord will not hear me. Broken relationships keep the Lord from hearing us.
Lastly He brings out the promise of the Presence of the Lord. When we are in right agreement with one another we find that God is there in our midst. The Psalmist tells us that in the Presence of the Lord there is joy and Nehemiah says the joy of the Lord is our strength.
I often find that people are emotionally run down and unable to rise up to do what should be done because they do not have any strength. When I talk with them it often comes out that there is a broken relationship. We all have experienced this and we all have felt its tremendous draining effect upon us. However, we also have sensed the joy when a relationship was worked out. This is the Presence of the Lord.
We often hear that we should live in His Presence, but what does this mean practically in everyday life? I believe it means that my conscience is pure/clean before God and any other person – so that there are no broken relationships that were my responsibility to correct in God’s eyes.
Relationships are very important.