Umm, this isn’t going to be easy. No one ever said doing the right thing would be easy.
One Word –
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 17, 18; Luke 16; 17:1-10
Big Idea –
“Pay attention to yourselves;” previously Jesus had instructed his disciples by way of parable that they should not try to remove the speck from someone’s eye with a log in their own. He told them to be sure to remove the log from their own eye first, then they could see clearly to remove the speck from the eye of another. So if you and I are going to be a spiritual leader or mentor for another follower of Jesus, our first responsibility is to make sure we are following carefully in the steps of Jesus. We can not let compromise or sin keep us from being able to see clearly to help others follow our example as we follow Christ (see Lk. 6:41-42; 1 Cor. 11:1).
Umm, the heart is deceitfully wicked, so paying attention to yourself isn’t going to be easy.
“If a brother [or sister] sins, rebuke him [or her];” at one time or another we all stumble along the path of righteousness. Jesus wants His followers to care enough for one another that when they see another believer fall into sin they will lovingly rebuke them for their sin. Jesus does not want us to whitewash or ignore the sin of other believers (especially those whom we know and are in relationship with). Be mindful of yourself, but be willing to go to those who sin and show it to them.
Umm, can we agree this is easier said than done?
“If he [or she] repents forgive him [or her];” the purpose or goal of the rebuke is forgiveness. The admonition to turn from sin is never made to cut down or destroy someone; rather a rebuke should lead a fresh start. Notice repentance is not just about receiving God’s forgiveness; repentance is to be accompanied by the forgiveness of the believer who came with the rebuke. Jesus said, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mat. 18:18); if we hold onto their sin withholding forgiveness, then their sin is also bound within heaven. Let’s not bind God’s forgiveness with our unforgiveness – look to yourself lest you too fall into the sin of bitterness.
Umm, this is not getting any easier is it?
“If he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him;” our forgiveness is NOT contingent upon future behavior. Let’s face it: SIN NEVER HAPPENS IN A VACUUM. In other words, my sin is seldom only a sin against God; my sin will almost always affect other people in my life. So when someone sins, we not only are to forgive, but we are to forgive again and again even if our believing friend continues to stumble and fall into sin over and over.
Umm, this one is easier said than done too. Is what Jesus said even possible?
Yes, but not with human energy. Following Jesus’ instructions here requires that we walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. We must depend upon the help of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and strength. Only then can we have an awareness of our personal walk (or way of living) and go to a fellow believer with a loving rebuke.
Can I just say this all hits me to close for comfort today? I recently followed the leading of the LORD to go to someone I knew had sinned (and yes their sin impacted other people too). Rebuke is never easy to give and it’s probably even harder to receive. I pointed out not only their sin and how it hurt people encouraging them to pray for the Holy Spirit to show them as well. I committed to keeping the matter just between us assuring them of my forgiveness and desire for reconciliation.
I found out today that at least for now they did not receive what I said; they have hardened their hearts justifying their actions. Umm, this really is easier said than done.
I am to pay attention to myself and not give into sin, therefore I must continue to walk in God’s grace extending forgiveness even to those who have not asked for it.
Yes to Yield –
LORD Jesus, all of this really is too close for comfort. My heart is broken that resentment was the response I received rather than repentance and reconciliation. Yet how often have I also not responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and continued in sin, let alone the loving rebuke of a friend. I know I have not been without fault; thank You for Your forgiveness and the forgiveness of others as I have confessed my sin. Holy Spirit empower me to walk in grace, to forgive even the unrepentant showing Your unfailing love in what I say and do. I release them so they might know Your forgiveness as well. And help me pay attention to myself today and in the days to come that I do not stumble and fall into sin. And LORD if I’m in need of a loving rebuke, keep my heart open to those who would risk sharing what they see in me that I’m blind to and unaware of.