Church discipline is a topic that nobody wants to talk about! But, in truth, it should never get to that point. A believer, caught in sin and confronted (and I believe it would be a significant sin based on 1 Corinthians 5:1-3), should repent! But if he/she doesn’t, then it becomes more complicated. That’s when you take someone with you to witness your confrontation, so that it can be reported back that restoration was attempted, but refused. And the context here is instructive. The phrases “if two of you agree” and “where two or three are assembled” refer to the judgment of the church body, and to use them in any other way is problematic.
We’re also reminded here that forgiveness is huge. Peter thinks he’s being magnanimous and that forgiving someone (after repentance, which is made clear in Luke 17:4) seven times is a lot. He’s expecting praise! But Jesus says that you should be ready to forgive 77 times, and goes on to teach a parable about it.
A man owed an unbelievable amount to his lord – $6 billion! He is forgiven. But then he holds someone accountable for a $12,000 debt and has him thrown into prison. Others weren’t happy about it, and let the lord know what had happened. The lord then throws him into debtors prison. The lord believed that he should have been forgiving, since he had been forgiven of so much.
The lesson is clear. We owed a massive debt to God that we couldn’t repay. God forgives us of that debt when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Since we have been forgiven of so much, how can we possibly refuse to forgive others? And if we do refuse, it has massive implications for our lives: “So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.” What could that mean? A loss of the sense of his presence. A loss of peace, hope, and joy. Barriers between us and God. Frustration. Futility. Anger. Bitterness. Do we really want to live that way?