World-Wide Bible Studies,
Serving the World through the Study of Scripture!
Sign in to join Jim Reynolds's fan club.
Seventy Times Seven
Luke 17:3-5 –
“So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
Think through that chain of events in a literal way. Someone in your orbit wrongs you, sins against you, and wounds you even more deeply than you know. But he or she recognizes the wrong, returns, and not only asks your forgiveness, but “repents.”
Then, only hours or perhaps minutes later, the whole ugly mess repeats itself: cCrushing blow: I’m sorry and I repent”: “I forgive you.” Then again: Wound: “I repent”: “I forgive you.” Fresh hurt. Again. And again. Like the lashes of a whip, one more time.
At some point, wouldn’t you begin to doubt the genuineness of the repentance?
What do we do when hurt is ongoing? How can we respond as believers and followers of Jesus when the pain isn’t locked away in the never-to-be-repeated past, but is an ever-present and stark reality? What can we do when the pain comes seventy times a day? What about the times when the offender’s “repentance” seems weak at best and false at worst?
The only Biblical answer is we forgive again.
I’ve always taught this passage as a “lifestyle” of forgiveness, as the settled conviction that you are forgiven before
you hurt me. In other words, the decision has already been made. Forgiveness is a given, just like faithfulness to my wife. I don’t have to check out how attractive the woman is who is trying to steal my affections before flatly denying her advances. That decision has already been made. Likewise, I choose not to gauge the severity of the wound before deciding whether or not to forgive.
There’s something else here, though. When a relationship crisis is ongoing, so is the hurt, quite apart from actual new offenses.
Surely, you’ve had the experience of thinking about someone, or a specific situation, and feeling the heat of bitterness rise afresh. I was belittled by a traffic cop one afternoon, while he was directing traffic. I was bullied in Junior High. Not all that long ago, if either experience surfaced in my memory, I could practically feel my jaw tighten and teeth clench.
Those moments are opportunities to, as an act of will, choose forgiveness again. As we go through our days, responsibilities and even leisure will distract us. But in those unguarded and unplanned moments, recent, ongoing hurts are going to bubble to the top. According to Jesus, we must, by faith, forgive again. When that “friend” who abandoned you crosses your mind, “I forgive you.” If the critic, who has ground you into the mud, sparks fresh bitterness, “I forgive you.” If those, who have disappointed and frustrated you by their callous apathy, cause a new wave of hurt to snake across your gut and sting your eyes with tears, “I forgive you.”
Upon hearing such difficult truth, the disciples cried out, “Lord, increase our faith!” Next time, we’ll look at the connection between faith and forgiveness. It might help you fight the battle. For now, accept that Jesus Himself calls on us to forgive. Forgive again. Fresh forgiveness offered one more time. Again. And again. Like the lashes of a whip against
our true enemy, again. Like the healing balm of grace on open wounds, forgive again.
Article submitted Friday, February 17, 2012 & read 264 times.
Leave your comments through World Wide Bible Studies:
No comments yet.
We appreciate your comments!
Copyright © 2012 IcoLogic, Inc.