Luke 17 verses 3 & 4. “So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
Because of the realities of the final crossing over, and the danger of some people either doing something or saying something that may cause others who want to put their faith in Christ, to hesitate, Jesus lays out two special duties for all Christians.
The first is a true Christian must rebuke his brother when he sees him sinning (v 3). This, of course, is a basic statement that we must take seriously. But we need to remember that Jesus did not give us all the dynamics of rebuking or correcting others, in this one short statement, and therefore we must be careful that we do not interpret this statement in such a way that it plays right into the hands of self-righteous people, who are always condemning someone else. That is not what it was meant to do.
Rather in the light of the eternal consequences of sin, a true brother or sister in Christ will be filled with concern for the erring person. There will be nothing
judgemental about his/her approach, but rather governed by love and concern the one who is engaging in offensive behaviour will be brought to see the error of his ways. Of course, it does not automatically mean that those who are so confronted, will want to do anything about their behaviour. They may simply not be interested in any Christian correction and choose stubbornly to go on in their sin. So be it. The choice is then there’s.
The greater problem in our day is that because of the emphasis on not judging others, we will not say anything at all. We become cowards and do nothing to help turn a sinner from the error of his ways. Rather we should emulate our Master and with wisdom and humility, stand against what is wrong, whether it wins friends for us, or otherwise. We also have a responsibility to do what is right.
There is another duty placed upon us when we see others doing wrong – when they repent we are to forgive them – even seven times a day. Of course, seven times a day is merely a figure of speech to indicate that the Christian’s attitude is always to be one of open and free forgiveness. It is meant to indicate the full and free forgiveness that Christ offers to repenting sinners. Even though we may have doubts about a person’s sincerity we should leave that for Christ to deal with. We deal with people at face value and in that way the forgiveness of Christ is always seen in us.
Thus no one ever needs to “cross over” to the other side thinking there is no forgiveness for them, because of our behaviour.
Have you got any forgiveness business to sort out today?