KJV - Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (4) And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
NIV - Luke 17:3-4 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. (4) If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
There is great deal of important information given in these two verses. One thing this world needs, is more people with a forgiving attitude. Instead, too many folks are quick to retaliate. In fact, this is such an important issue, that Jesus connects the forgiveness of our sins to our willingness to forgive others.
KJV - Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
NIV - Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (15) But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Let’s break in down in sections.
Take Heed to Yourselves: I think this statement comes over better as a warning in the King James version. I think Jesus is trying to warn us because forgiveness is NOT natural. In fact, forgiveness goes against everything worldly. I have heard an old saying most of my life: “I don’t get even, I get ahead!” I think that statement truly reflects the human condition. We don’t want to let negative things pass. We don’t want to get even...WE WANT VENGEANCE. That is why Jesus warns us to take heed or to watch ourselves. We must be on the look out for our weakness in this and be willing to fix this short coming so that we might have the forgiving attitude of Jesus.
If Your Brother Sins: There must be a significant difference between our attitudes and actions towards someone when they have simply offended us or hurt our feelings verses when someone that has SINNED against us. Jesus is specifically speaking about the latter here. If someone says to me, “you sure have put on a few extra pounds” I cannot hold them to the same standards as if they have stolen from me. The criteria for the two are completely different. We need to always have a forgiving attitude. That means we need to over look when someone hurts our feelings. On the other hand, if real sin in involved, we must help them spiritual, because their soul and their relationship with God is at stake.
Rebuke Him: I think the word “rebuke” gets a bad wrap by many. In this context, it simply means to correct. Correction, can either be good or bad depending on several important factor.
1. What is the motive of the “correction”? When Jesus is speaking about it here, he intends the correction should be for the sole purpose of getting the person to recognize their sin and to make it right. Too man times “correction” is done for punishment, or criticism. There is no room for such attitudes. We should see a brother like this as being in need.
2. What is our attitude when we correct? We sould not approach this person in the wrong in ANY sort of condecending or “holier-than-thou” fashion. Instead, we should always approach such a person with love and compassion.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
If He Repent, Forgive Him: As mentioned before, we must ALWAYS have a forgiving attitude, because God and Jesus had that attitude towards us. But a forgiving attitude does not mean that we ignore sin or sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. The whole purpose of the rebuke is to bring about repentance. That is for that person’s best interest. Their repentance is essential BEFORE we can forgive. If we give the impression that all is OK before repentance takes place, then we will be condoning that sin and giving the impression that God does as well. Doing that is only setting the person up for false hopes.
The important thing about this point is our willingness to forgive. We must have the attitude, not to make them jump through hoops as it were, but rather to make it as easy as possible for them to repent. Just look at the father in the Prodigal son. The father didn’t quiz his son. He didn’t put him on probation, he ran to his son while he was a good way off, making the last few steps even easier. We must always ask ourselves, how do we want our father to treat us in forgiveness? That is how we ought to treat others as well.
Forgive Endlessly: Regardless of how many times a sin is committed, if the attitude and actions or fruits of repentance are apparent we must continue to forgive. We can look at our own lives, and if we are honest with ourselves, none of us have reached the point of perfection. In fact, if we are real honest, we woill have to admit that many of the sins that we commit, we have done them a number of times. We hope and expect God to forgive us, therefore we need to be willing to forgive others as many times as they desire it.
Reflecting His SON,
Minister, North Hardin Church of Christ
1804 Sam Stewart Dr.
Radcliff, KY 40160
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