“[…] Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things already bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loosen on earth will be things already loosened in heaven.”
When we are waiting for a decision to be made by our congregation’s body of elders, we can easily lose patience if it affects us personally.
When Jesus was talking about things being bound or loosened, he did it in the context of someone on trial.
When a body of elders holds someone to account for their sins, they need to be careful not to rush into rash judgments based on hurt feelings.
Jesus implied elders’ decisions should be based on principles laid down in heaven, and the same principles should guide them when reinstating someone into the congregation. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)
“[…] If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”
Often we think of mercy as an accessory to justice. But really, justice is a means for God to express his mercy toward us.
Because of his mercy, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten son to earth to die for our sins. (Ro. 5:8-11)
Jesus thereby satisfied God’s law of ‘a life for a life,’ replacing Adam as our first father, and opened the way for us to reconcile with God. (De. 19:21; 1 Cor. 15:45)
God’s law was founded on mercy, so Jesus highlighted mercy as the underlying principle in the application of his law.
If we are motivated by a sincere desire to aid those who are at a spiritual or material disadvantage, our heavenly Father takes notice. (Prov. 19:17; 2 Cor. 4:1,2)
“Jehovah has removed the judgments against you.
He has turned away your enemy.
The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst.
You will fear calamity no more.”
Even if we have made mistakes in the past which offended God, we can trust that if we sincerely repent, God will not remain angry at us forever. (Ps. 86:5)
Jehovah disciplined his people in ancient times to the point that it was fair and just, and he will do the same to us today if we fall into sinful practices. (2 Tim. 3:16)
So we should never fear that we are inevitably separated from God.
If he has forgiven us, we in turn have to forgive ourselves.
“[…] Although I have fallen, I will rise up; Although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be my light.”
When we sin against God, we can recover spiritually not by our own merits, but by God’s own undeserved mercy.
We should not take a spiritual fall in such a way that we believe it is impossible to recover.
Certainly, if our spiritual standing depended solely on ourselves, then in our imperfection, we might never be faithful. (Ro. 3:23)
But because God reaches out to those repentant in order to draw them back close to him, we can trust that full spiritual recovery is possible. (Mic. 7:18,19)
To benefit from his help, we must show humility and patience. (Mic. 7:9)
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says:’Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them.'”
As time proceeds deeper into the “last days,” Jehovah God actively looks for those who have strayed from the flock. (John 10:16; 2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses’ worldwide preaching work is primarily aimed at witnessing to non-believers, from time to time we run into a stray sheep who for one reason or another has seized associating with the congregation.
Because our work is headed by angels, we are able to find repentant brothers and sisters who recognize the times we are living in and ask for help to return to Jehovah before it is too late. (Zep. 2:2,3; Rev. 14:6,7)
It is an undeserved honor to be allowed to collaborate with our kind heavenly Father in this soul saving work. (1 Cor. 3:9)
“’In those days and at that time,’ declares Jehovah,
‘Israel’s guilt will be searched for,
But there will be none,
And the sins of Judah will not be found,
For I will forgive those whom I let remain.'”
God allowed his people to be disciplined for not heeding his commandments and straying from true worship. (Jer. 44:10,11)
But God also foretold that his people would return to the Promised Land after a set period and they would then be at peace with him. (Isa. 44:22; Jer. 31:34, 33:7)
Jehovah God is willing to forgive once he has set matters straight, leaving the past in the past.
Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
“Perhaps when those of the house of Judah hear of all the calamity that I intend to bring on them, they may turn back from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their error and their sin.”
Jehovah God looks to forgive those who have offended him. (Isa. 55:7)
He sees everyone’s heart and does not give up hope that these people can change. (2 Pet. 3:9)
Likewise, we should not hold on to a grudge or seize the opportunity to get even with someone who has offended us. (Ro. 12:17-19)
Nor should we rejoice when they suffer due to their own imperfections or to unrelated circumstances. (Prov. 24:17,18)
However, God’s pardon is not unconditional.
He forgives those who “turn back from their evil ways.”
Since we cannot see what lies in the heart of our fellow man, it is best to leave the judging to God, remaining hopeful that wrongdoers will become spiritually conscious before it is too late.