“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-4
Jesus talks a lot about forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus how often one should forgive, offering “seven” as his own generous answer. Jesus gives an amazing response of “seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). It was amazing because Jewish rabbis of that day, based on their interpretation of Amos 1:3-13, taught that three was the absolute maximum. To forgive more than three was unthinkable. But Jesus tells them that the gospel changes forgiveness. Rather than placing a limit on forgiveness, Jesus is telling his followers they are not to limit the number of times they forgive. They are part of a community that is supposed to be different. Because people will continue to make mistakes and hurt them, the need for forgiveness is constant.
There’s no doubt about it that forgiveness is costly. It was costly for Jesus, and it will be costly for us. There are situations where the offense is minor or involves our preference rather than an issue of right or wrong. In these situations, the cost is minimal. But sometimes the issue is huge, and forgiveness can cost us a lot. The cost might include payments we make again and again over many years. Only when we’re changed by the Gospel can we begin to step into forgiveness that is this costly.
Constant forgiveness means we need to grow continually in this area. We can see how we’re doing by asking three questions: 1) Have I placed this person back into the circle of humanity? This means you are no longer defining them by that one behavior. 2) Have I yielded the right to get even? This means you will not make them pay for what they did. 3) Do I want them to do well? This means you hope something good happens to them. These questions help us know where we are in the process of forgiveness, even in those situations where forgiveness is very difficult.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Journal about your progress with forgiveness. Use the previous questions to evaluate how you’ve responded when hurt. If you need help in this area, watch this video of Tim Keller Pastor Jeff Manion mentioned last weekend.
2023 SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Join us all of 2023 developing a different spiritual practice each month. SPIRITUAL PRACTICES are intentional regular activities to deepen our relationship with God and mold us to be more like Jesus.
April is CONFESSION. Keep track of our spiritual practices at beyondtheweekend.org/spiritualpractices.
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.