“Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him’” (Luke 17:1-4).
IDEA: Repentance demands forgiveness, and forgiveness demands grace.
PURPOSE: To help listeners sense the need of being a forgiving person.
In Luke 17:14, Jesus spells out three dangers that arise because we are sinful people living in a sinful society:
We cause other people to sin and even to go back to the old life by what we say or how we act (Luke 17:1-3a).
We refuse to rebuke evident sin and, by our silence, give assent to it (Luke 17:3).
We refuse to forgive when someone repents (Luke 17:4).
- The business of the Christian is forgiveness. It must be habitual.
Our business is not merely rebuke. Rebuke has its aim of “repentance,” and when the request for forgiveness is made, it must be granted.
Campbell Morgan put it this way: “If a man says he repents, I am to forgive him. Better to secure the sanctity and beauty of our own character by being ready to forgive seven times, even though the man is not sincere, than by refusing forgiveness to a truly repentant soul, and be in danger of putting a stumbling block in his way” (Luke, p. 195).
This is how God has dealt with us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .” The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.
- What is involved in forgiving another person?
Forgiveness means canceling a debt.
It does not mean overlooking a mistake nor excusing it. It means seeing the debt for what it is and canceling the debt owed.
- S. Lewis said, “Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it” (The Business of Heaven, p 62).
Forgiveness means releasing resentment.
Resentment is an inevitable result of being damaged and wounded by another person’s words or actions.
Dan Hamilton wrote this, “suppressed resentment will never die; it will be held in reserve and nurtured like malignant toadstools in the cellar. Resentment suppressed will never lose its power; like a spark in a gasoline tank, a bit of momentary friction will set off a resonating explosion” (Forgiveness, p. 6).
Resentment is like a fire inside the walls of a house. It keeps breaking out in different places.
Forgiveness means choosing love.
You choose to seek the best for the other person even when you feel hurt and angry. It is to deal with others as Christ has dealt with us. If you are a forgiven person, you can be a forgiving person.
Forgiveness means remembering to forget.
First Corinthians 13:4 reminds us that “love keeps no record of wrongs.” The word record is an accountant’s term. We put things down to remember them or to keep a tally on them. True forgiveness remembers to forget.
Forgiveness means trusting God to work in you and in the other person.
God deals in justice and in grace. He does that in us and in others. God chooses to work through forgiveness.