Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Our Basic Duty - Forgive the Repentant

Our Basic Duty - Forgive the Repentant

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. (Luke 17:5)

There are many things regarding sin and forgiveness that can be written about. These are important topics with important instructions and understanding concerning such as sin and worship, sin and sickness, repentance and confession of sin, sin and church discipline. Some of these I will seek to address later but for now what I want to do in this writing is to look at our duty to forgive. We know that offenses, intentional or not, will come and we must know how to handle the situation according to the direction of Christ our King. Please read the Word of our Lord:


(Luke 17:1-10) Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 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.

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

So likewise ye, when ye have done all those things .... we have done that which was our duty to do.

Jesus said to the disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a milestone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven against
you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent”, forgive him.

In this passage of scripture our Lord is calling us to a most basic duty. He tells us certain things.

1. Offences will come
2. Judgment is upon the offender
3. Instruction and warning is given to handle offenses properly
4. We are called to the duty to rebuke the offender
5. We are to forgive the repentant offender

Then only after we do that which our Lord here commands us can we say, “We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10)

It is very important that as a Christian community we understand our duty to each other when an offense has been committed. We need to know how to correct that hurt / severed relationship. Only by doing what our Lord has taught us can we keep real unity in Christ’s community, the Church.

Our Lord gives us clear direction in case our brother sins against us (and he will). We must first of all go to that brother and rebuke him. In rebuking our brother / sister who has sinned against us we are not to go to them ranting and raving, but we are to go seeking restoration and reconciliation. We are to admonish our brother / sister with wisdom, not from ourselves, but wisdom from the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16; James 3: 13-18).

If after the rebuke he repents then you are to grant him forgiveness, even as Christ has forgiven you. The implication and application of this is staggering for Christ has forgiven our sin and called us His friend (John 15). Our sin is also said to be remembered no more, cast as far as the east is from the west, and dropped into the deepest part of the ocean.

In our sin we offended God and He came to us, rebuked and warned us of His judgment. We repented of sin and asked Him to forgive us our sin. He did and established a new relationship with us, “old things are passed away behold all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17). The relationship established is one of honor, commitment and trust. God is honorable, committed and trustworthy to never raise the issue of our sin either now nor in the future at the judgment seat. He is our Father, we are His adopted children.

Now in forgiving the repentant brother / sister we are to forget the offense. This will not happen immediately because our minds stores data. However, true biblical forgivness is the promise, to the offender, never to raise the the issue again to the repentant one, to anyone else, and if you start to think about the ex-offender and the offewnse you need to push that thought away and just think on things lowly, pure, true, just, things of praise, etc. Under these controlled and proper conditions you will find that eventually forgetting offenses by others you have forgiven will happen.

You may be saying to yourself, ”I don’t feel like forgiving him/her.” Well, please note that our Lord gives us a warning, for in taking this attitude we then fall into the same judgment as the first offender and we become offender number two. You must understand that we cannot excuse ourselves from our basic duty of forgiving others. Forgivness is not something you feel it is something you grant. You must grant forgivness and commit yourself to this hard task.so that you do not come under judgment and so that you can reestablish a godly, unified relationship. Doing this most basic duty is very pleasing to our Lord.

Our Lord calls us to this duty any time repentance is done by the offender even if seven times in a day. Can this be difficult? Yes! This takes great faith even as the disciples recognized for they cried out, “Increase our faith.” The Lord heard them and told them what a small amount of faith could do and then taught a parable which instructed them that when they followed the command to forgive then they had only done their duty.
We are called to follow and do as our Lord teaches us and also to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Our prayer needs to be that we would be that we would be faithful to this daily Christian duty. May we be as faithful to our duty as Stephen was, who while being stone to death cried, “Lord lay not their sin to their charge” thereby showing that he forgave them from the depths of his heart even as he had been taught.


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