Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Jesus Said About Forgiveness

ForgivenessThe mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, "There, there. She didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that hurts." He nodded his acknowledgement, and she left the room.
As she started down the hall she heard the little girl scream. Rushing back in, she asked, "What happened?"
The little boy replied, "She knows now."
Jesus’ "Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" is preceeded by a succinct set of guidelines on what to do when a brother sins against you. (Matthew 18:15-17) Mark Roberts has done a whole series on this subject. Here is a summary:
1. First, deal with it one-on-one. Try to keep the matter private. Hopefully, this will be all that’s necessary to restore fellowship and friendship. (Verse 15)
2. If that doesn’t work, get help from others. (Verse 16)
3. If you aren’t successful with the first two steps, share the issue with the church. (Verse 17a)
4. If he refuses to listen to the church, put him out of the church. (Verse 17b)
If we would follow Christ’s clear commands we would have great blessings:
1. The blessing of heavenly power! (Verse 18)
2. The blessing of answered prayer! (Verse 19)
3. The blessing of Christ’s presence! (Verse 20)
Jesus has just given some teaching on restoring a church member who has sinned against you, and Peter comes and asks him, “How often should I forgive my brother, seven times?" (Verse 21)
We need to keep in mind here that a Jewish custom was floating around during this time that you were able to forgive a person three times for one specific sin. After that, you didn’t have to. So, when Peter said, “up to seven times” he was actually willing to go beyond the norm.
Jesus’ Answer on Forgiveness -- Christ answered the question with hyperbole. We aren’t to stop forgiving our brother at his seventh offence against us, but go on seventy times seven.
In other words, we aren’t really supposed to be counting. We’re supposed to be forgiving!


  1. This passage of scripture is one of the most powerful and effective tools we have to use. It is as applicable today as it was 2,000 years ago.

    Instead of griping about someone that has offended you, I guarantee that if you were to go talk to that person before you ever talked to anyone else, the matter would be resolved 9 out of 10 times.

    The relationship would be stronger also.

    We abide by this passage in the Cowboy Church and we preach it all the time. Thanks for writing about something near and dear to my heart.

  2. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 491 times, shame on me." hehe :) I like Richard.

  3. Kevin, sounds like you are getting this right at Cowboy Church. Oh, that all of us in the family of God would forgive those who hurt us and restore those who have fallen. Forgive and restore--that's exactly what God did for us in Christ.

    Steven, Yeah, sounds silly doesn't it? Been praying for you guys. Hope you had a great birthday, and now Caleb too.


  4. You know it's funny... well not really funny but usually I'm the person who needing to be dealt with one on one ends up having eight or nine people come down on me all at once and say "Sage we need to tell you about all the times you screwed up over the past three weeks." I always get so frustrated and angry that people can't just come to me themselves and tell me that such and such wasn't ok, or hurtful or whatever. Having been on that side of it I actually go a little nuts whenever someone says "You won't believe was so-and-so did to me."

    Side note - the number 7 was considered spiritually significant by most jewish sects as representing the fulfillment of God's plan (created the world in 7 days, exile lasted 70 years) so to say that we must forgive each other 7 times 70 times is to say that we must forgive one another until the final fulfillment of God's plan for the world.

  5. Sage, It's hard not to be rude when we say to someone, "Don't tell me what ________ did to you, tell them and forgive." Now it's almost like we have something to be forgiven by them. Tough, but loving.

    Good point on the forgive 'til Jesus comes thing.



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