If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Luke 17:3
Reflecting on how she forgave Manasseh, the man who killed her husband and some of her children in the Rwandan genocide, Beata said, “My forgiving is based on what Jesus did. He took the punishment for every evil act throughout all time. His cross is the place we find victory—the only place!” Manasseh had written to Beata from prison more than once, begging her—and God—for forgiveness as he detailed the regular nightmares that plagued him. At first she could extend no mercy, saying she hated him for killing her family. But then “Jesus intruded into her thoughts,” and with God’s help, some two years later, she forgave him.
In this, Beata followed Jesus’ instruction to His disciples to forgive those who repent. He said that 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” (Luke 17:4). But to forgive can be extremely difficult, as we see by the disciples’ reaction: “Increase our faith!” (v. 5).
Beata’s faith increased as she wrestled in prayer over her inability to forgive. If, like her, we’re struggling to forgive, we can ask God through His Holy Spirit to help us to do so. As our faith increases, He helps us to forgive.
If someone who wronged you later repented, how did you react? How could God help you to forgive in these situations?
Jesus, thank You for releasing me from the consequences of my sin through Your death on the cross. I give You the glory!
Read The Risk of Forgiveness at DiscoverySeries.org/HP071.
In Luke 17, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to relate to other people (vv. 1–5) and to God (vv. 6–10). He warns that His disciples aren’t to cause anyone to sin (v. 2) and are to confront those who do sin (v. 3), which was required by the law (Leviticus 19:17). Jesus added a third duty: to forgive those who repent (Luke 17:3–4). His disciples are to deal unequivocally with a brother or sister who sins, with the purpose of restoration and reconciliation (Matthew 18:15–17). The rabbis argued that since God forgave Israel’s enemies only three times (inferred from Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13), people only needed to forgive three times. However, Jesus wasn’t setting a new “seven times” limit on forgiveness (Luke 17:4). Rather, the idea is that when it comes to forgiving someone, you don’t keep score. There’s no limit to the number of times you forgive.