"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20). Has anyone who quotes this verse ever asked, where is Jesus when you are by yourself? He's with you, of course, so let's stop pulling this verse out in small groups, saying how neat it is that Jesus is here. When we read what comes before and after, we discover it is about something much more than that.
What follows is Peter asking how many times he should forgive his brother, suggesting seven, and Jesus replying, "not seven times, but seventy-seven" (Matthew 18:22). Jesus tells a story of a gracious king who forgave the extravagant debt of a servant, yet the servant was ungraciously unwilling to forgive another of a meager amount. Because of the servant's greed, the king rescinded his grace and cast the wicked fool into prison. God is the king, and the selfish servant could be us, and the lesson is, "so also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart" (Matthew 18:35).
Earlier, Jesus explained how to forgive "if your brother sins against you" (Matthew 18:15). Go to him and seek reconciliation. If that doesn't work, take someone with you. If that doesn't work, take it to the church. Keep trying. Now we are back to that cherished verse, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20), but with a better idea of what it means. Jesus is so interested in the good relationships of his children, in reconciliation and forgiveness and love, that when two or three of us get together to work out an offense, Jesus says, "I'm here to help. I'm with you. I'm all about this!"
Father in Heaven, forgive me my sins as I forgive others theirs. That is a dangerous thing to pray, because I am not very good at forgiving. But You are teaching me. I know I have sinned against You. A lot. You not only have forgiven me, You paid the penalty for my sins. The more I understand Your love, Your grace, Your mercy, the better I share it with others.
Thank You God. You have freed me, not only from my own sins, but from the ugliness of bitterness against the sins of others.