Matthew 18:15-20 (NASB)
15 “Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
We might title this chapter in Matthew “Life among the little ones.” Jesus wants the disciples to understand themselves as “little ones.” He wants them to treat one another as “little ones” too—with kindness and grace. The chapter is full of this sort of imagery.
In the section for Sunday’s reading we see how this attitude plays out. Disagreements should be treated with understanding and discretion—never as opportunities to “score points.” Reconciliation should always be the goal. We should learn to forgive one another. A whole bunch.
Little ones are to take care, especially, in what they “loose” and “bind.” Some translations give the impression that heaven ratifies whatever we choose to “loose” or “bind.” “Little ones” will know better. Other translations make the connection clearer. We “loose” what “shall have been loosed” already in heaven—not the other way around. And heaven has “loosed” a great deal. Heaven is under no obligation to observe our earthly prejudices. Here is a call for “little ones” to treat one another with grace.
Forgive me for “binding” what I should not bind, and “loosing” what I should not loose. Help me to live as your little one. Amen.