"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 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."
Yesterday we saw…
“And if he repent, forgive him.”
“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day,”
We have learned that Jesus’ lesson is the importance of being a forgiver as a way of life. It’s not so much about how many times I’m wronged by someone, but how many times I forgive the one who hurt me.
“And seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent;”
Here’s Jesus’ setup – someone, a brother wrongs me, but he repents, but later wrongs me again and repents – seven times…
We need to remember what “repent” means. Yesterday we learned that to “repent” means, “to think differently about,” to “reconsider” what I’ve done and to feel a “moral compunction” to change and make it right.1 In other words, this wrong I’ve done affects me profoundly, and I am making changes so that I will not do it again. My heart, when I’ve wronged someone is to confess my sin to the Lord and the one I’ve wronged, and to change my behavior and to make restitution when possible.
Because we are not God and cannot see hearts we may not know if their repentance is genuine or not, at least not immediately; in time, by observing their actions and attitudes, we will have a good idea if they meant it, or not. But naturally in Jesus story, seven “repents” in a day doesn’t leave much time for observation. In this passage Jesus isn’t calling us to be the judge of the sincerity of their repentance, He is calling us to forgive. Clearly, in Jesus’ story, the offending man has some problems with his repentance or things would be different.
“Thou shalt forgive him.”
I have no control over whether the other person repents or not or even the genuineness of their “repentance.” I do have control over the genuineness of my “forgiveness.” What should I do if the person who has wronged me will not repent? Can I hold a grudge against him? Jesus faced this, and what did He do? The men who crucified Him didn’t repent.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots,” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus forgave His executioners, and He asked His Father to forgive them as well.
When I “forgive him” it means that I release him from the hold I have over him, I let go of the offense, I give up the debt he owes me, I “let it go…” If I do not turn it loose, it will imbitter me (Hebrews 12:15), and many will be hurt by my refusal to “let it go.”
If you are holding a grudge against someone who has wronged you, you are sinning. Think about this, their wrong against you doesn’t justify your wrong, your lack of forgiveness against them.
The most important reason that I can think of why we need to be forgiving is this; Jesus said to be forgiving. Let me encourage you to live every part of your life in obedience to Jesus Christ, including being a good forgiver!
1. “Repent,” the Wave Parallel Bible, iPad application.