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“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

(Matthew 18:15-20 KJV)

We spend much of our life making agreements with one another. Even babies and their mothers “agree” to share food and company. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus teaches how agreements should be made.

Over the years, I have counselled many young couples with the advice that a strong marriage is achieved with a strong triangle. The horizontal line consists of a durable bond joined equally by a male and female partner. In turn, both partners need a solid, unbroken relationship with God over all so that the triangle can withstand the many stresses that are daily encountered. A triangle like this needs work to be established and maintained.

My wife and I lived more than sixty years as a happily married couple. While we tried to preserve just such a strong triangle vertically, we quickly understood the difficulty in maintaining the 50/50 equal horizontal relationship involved.

We soon realized that we would come closer to meeting that goal with a 90/10 target. I had to spend 90 percent concerned about her and 10 percent on myself. In turn, my wife was always 90 percent concerned about me and 10 percent about herself.

Of course, we never achieved our ideal balance, but we certainly came closer to a 50/50 balance than we would have otherwise.

In any agreement, marital or otherwise, Jesus sets out the key to success at the end of today’s passage: “together in my name”. The horizontal bar of any agreement can be made successful if it is strongly connected at both ends vertically. Let’s all try for such an objective!

Prayer: Dear God, help us learn how to make strong, successful agreements by willingly striving to adopt a 90/10 attitude. Most of all, may we realize that we must make agreements with a strong relationship with You through the leadership of Jesus as guided by the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Vincent Walter 
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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