“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 seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-4
Our Father in Heaven created you to be in full and satisfying relationship with Him and with all those in His family. We’re meant for loving community, and our Father yearns for us to experience it.
One of the terrible consequences of human sin is the hurt we so easily and so often inflict on one another. In our selfishness and pettiness, we use the power of our words and our bodies to do damage to others. Rather than drawing close to one another, we create distance between one another.
The problem is actually even more severe than this, though. Not only do we miss the community experience we’re meant to have because of this damaging sin, we also miss it because of our stubbornness in holding on to resentment and anger when we’ve been wronged. The offense itself separates us and then the resulting unforgiveness solidifies that wedge.
Every close relationship is bound to experience some kind of offense and hurt, and it is often unintentional. Our Master Jesus knows that the only way for flawed people to share deep and loving relationship with one another in genuine community is to be forgiving – and tenaciously so. Notice what He said: “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day…” He knows that the repetition of offense is a huge barrier to reconciliation and forgiveness because our natural inclination is to think, “If they were really sorry, they wouldn’t keep doing it!” He won’t let that thought stand unchallenged. If they repent, He said, then we must forgive. Relationships are what we’re meant for, and relationships can only survive and then thrive in the nutritious soil of graciousness, compassion, and forgiveness.
Though there is something in us that objects to this call from our Master (because no one wants to invite more hurt on themselves or to be walked on by others), we who have committed to be His disciples must trust Him even with this. He knows what might happen if you forgive those who repeatedly hurt you. He knows the negative possibilities very well. He deals with sinful people every day, after all. What we must focus on, as Kingdom people who live in the light of Kingdom possibilities, is the miraculous potential for good that our obedience represents. When we do the hard things that our Master calls us to do, we partner with Him in the impossible work that only He can do. We work with Him in creating new creation moments in which healing and transformation can take place. Reconciliation is His specialty, and our willingness to genuinely forgive even the worst and most repetitious offenses invites Him to enter into our relationships with power to bring it about.
You have been forgiven and reconciled despite terrible and repetitious sins, Disciple. I have, too. Isn’t that the wonder of it? When our Master calls us to be forgiving to this seemingly absurd extent, He is actually calling us to live in the reality of what has been done for us. He is inviting us to participate in His nature and demonstrate His heart. This is not a terrible burden He is placing on us. Rather, this is an incredible opportunity and privilege that we are now capable of stepping into. He values loving community, and He wants you to have it. Obey Him and know the beauty of deep fellowship with Him and others – perhaps even those who have hurt you. Now that is kingdom living!
Forgiven and forgiving freely with you,