Holy Week | Thursday
Week 6 | What Can We Expect As Followers of Christ?
Living in a Fallen World: Needing to Forgive
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 17: 1-10
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 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.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
- From the way Jesus phrases his words in v.1, what are the most likely things that cause people to stumble?
- What is Jesus’ expectation for his followers when they sin against one another? Why might this take great faith?
- The parable that follows in verses 7-10 suggests that forgiveness shouldn’t be a big deal–it should be par for the course–simply what is expected for people who are part of God’s kingdom. It fits with what Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:4), “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.“ How do Jesus’ expectations regarding forgiveness compare with your own?
- What assumptions do you operate under for life in a fallen world? What do you typically expect to cause you to stumble?
- Is forgiveness “par for the course” for you? What are the challenges to repairing a broken relationship? What is your motivation to repair a broken relationship?
- As you pray, give thanks for the ways God has forgiven you. Ask him to help you grow in faith as you consider any relationships in need of forgiveness.
- How has forgiveness impacted your life? Do you struggle more to rebuke or to forgive? Jesus seems to have much higher expectations than we do for forgiveness day to day. Share some of your experiences in this area.
We often focus, rightly, on the need to keep forgiving when others sin against us. But the passage also says that the person who caused the offense needs to keep repenting and asking for forgiveness. It’s a two-way street. I think I often find it harder to ask for forgiveness than to give it. That takes real humility and courage. Both sides of the equation should be normal in the kingdom. Can you imagine what the church would be like if this was a normal part of our life together? I do think we make too big a deal of agonizing over what to do when we are hurt by another believer. Jesus says, “Come on guys, this should not be a big deal. It doesn’t even take that much faith! Just repent and forgive. It’s not optional. It’s your duty.”
The thing I try to always remember, is that forgiving others is really for me, not them. So often, as Janet says in the opening paragraph, our own expectations cause our disappointment. We expect certain things of others in our lives, and feel bad when they don't deliver--whether or not those expectations are realistic. For me, this usually happens when I assess how others will act in a given situation by how I would act--but they are not me, so this is usually not accurate and often not fair.
So many times when I forgive someone, it is for a hurt they don't even know about, or a "sin" they didn't realize was a sin. But it frees me to keep a sweet and open spirit, which is why I try to live letting go of grudges before they can take root and ruin my heart.
Forgiveness has been a struggle for me in specific areas. I have been hurt by my former church. I've prayed allot for the Lord's help in this area. Though I feel I've forgiven them, there are times when their name is brought up that stirs negativity in my spirit. This has been such a struggle for me. When I think I'm good with it, I realize no I'm not. Lord I continue to pray that complete forgive will come through Your Holy Spirit.
I have a question for the theologians in this group. I have no issues with forgiving people, but Jesus says an interesting thing here. He says “if a person repents forgive him.” Vs. 3. If there is no repentance, do you just keep forgiving? The classical answer is of course yes, but it is interesting how Jesus said it here.
II believe it is important to forgive even if the other person doesn’t repent. I believe it is the Apostle Paul who says, lnsofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” Jesus certainly offers forgiveness to those who hav e beat Him and nailed Him to the Cross. Steven, while being stoned, prays “Father, please don’t hold this sin against them.”
I think it's important to think about all of Scripture when we think about forgiveness, not just this passage. I've read helpful articles that dig deeper into this as well. I think of forgiveness in 2 dimensions--vertically (in relation to God) and horizontally (in relation to the person who sins against us). When it comes to the vertical aspect, I think we are always called to forgive. What Melody said is helpful regarding this. It helps us to let go of an offense and leave it in God's hands. But the "rebuke" aspect mentioned in this passage is also relevant. If the person is not repentant, it could be that he/she is unaware of sinning against me. In that case it is my responsibility to go to him/her and say something. We tend to not be very good at this, as it seems "un-Christian" to do so, but Jesus clearly talks about it hear and elsewhere (Matt 18 comes to mind). But, as Nick said, we are told to be at peace as far as it depends on us. There are consequences to an unrepentant attitude, which might include lack of reconciliation. If someone continues to sin against me, it is wise to put distance between us and not allow it to continue. The "horizontal" component to forgiveness is trickier in this regard, and more dependent on a repentant heart.
Janet, I completely agree. Jesus would never want us to remain in an abusive relationship.