Should I?

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” – Mt 18:21-22 NRSV

And forgive our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors. – Mt 6:12 NRSV

These were the verses read for our Bible study this morning.  The topic of discussion was forgiveness.  The specific question: Can we really ask to be forgiven our sins if we haven’t completely forgiven others?

It’s interesting in the first text the NRSV translators use the phrase “member of the church.”  The actual word in the Greek would be translated brother.  In other words, this isn’t just a casual acquaintance.  Peter is asking about someone whom he has a relationship with – someone who should also be concerned about community/relationship.  A brother has your best interests at heart.  He would never do anything intentional to hurt you.  Jesus says in effect, “Don’t keep score.  Forgive much.”

But what about those who don’t have your best interests at heart?  What about those people who don’t want a relationship/community?  What about people who have proven they could care less about you?  What if they have no desire to be a brother or sister?  What about those people?  Should I forgive?  Should I make peace (as much as possible) and then move on with life?  Should I continue to get bloody and bruised?

Of course there’s much to “unpack” in the word forgiveness, which leads to a conversation of grace, which leads to…  You get the idea.  So what say you?  John Bevere says no desire to forgive is The Bait of Satan.  Is there a difference if the one to forgive is a member of the Church, a brother, a sister?


5 Responses to “Should I?”

  1. How devastating can it be to find that a Christian brother or sister does not have your best interest at heart. It can sting a bit! If you become angry with them it can cloud the way we deal with them. Personally if I am the one who has let a brother or sister down, I need to go to them right away and face it, keeping little problems little if I can. If I am the one who is on the receiving end I need to try and care about THEM more than what they did, not so easy! I want to adopt the theory that I may not like their actions but I must love them whether it be from afar or up close, God will let me know, I just have to listen. I shouldn’t want to control others actions even if those actions are against me. Sometimes we say, well I will just pray for them, but we need to check our heart for sincerity otherwise you may just be justifying our own angry feelings, letting ourselves off the hook. If you face your brother or sister with truthfulness and love and they still reject you, I say step out of the line of fire and be still, God is still working even if we cannot see it.

    • Diane, Good words! You said, “I want to adopt the theory that I may not like their actions but I must love them whether it be from afar or up close, God will let me know, I just have to listen.” Sometimes love comes from a distance. Very true and very wise!

  2. There is no difference. We are all brothers and sisters.

    “Member of the church” – what does that mean? Is going to church the same as “joining a club” that makes us a “member”? God made us all in His image and we should forgive one another –

    John Bevere’s quote is accurate in that not having the “DESIRE” to forgive is what Satan has a field day with. Applying our free will – are we WILLing to forgive?

    I like this quote you shared with me: “Jesus’ resolve to fulfill God’s plan for him must be tested and proved right at the outset of his ministry” – Craig Blomberg

    Jesus’ determination… tenacity. Should I? Yes. I should resolve to be forgiving. A sin is a sin, is a sin. The same amount of blood and pain and death – is the reason I can be forgiven. I need to resolve to forgive.

    • Brothers and sisters? Can you expect someone who doesn’t know Christ to treat you the same as one who does? If that person hurts you, do you write it off as ignorance or something else? As for your question about “member of the Church”, I think you know my thoughts. But for the benefit of others :), I’m not interested in any club – simply being a follower of Christ. But being a follower of Christ brings about new/bigger responsibilities. I should forgive as you say because I’ve been forgiven. The reason there’s a distinction is a “brother”, a “member of the Church”, a “follower of Christ” – whichever you prefer, should know better. Consider what Paul says in his letters about the difference. Why would Jesus even mention “shaking the dust off of your sandals”?

  3. Leah Alexander Says:

    Forgiveness isn’t about the other person anyways. It’s about us. Hostility, anger, and grudges get pretty heavy if a person carries them long enough.

    The disciples ask a lot of earthly questions early on. I’m sure Peter came to realize what Jesus meant with that response. 🙂 It took me awhile to get it, but I finally did too.

    When a person is focused on what another has done to them, it’s too easy to lose focus on what God has done and is doing. And satan may know a blessing is coming our way and decide to toss some person in our way for us to get upset or hurt by. I need all the blessings I can get so I try to pay attention -if someone is doing something to distract me it could be a smokescreen to cause me to lose sight of something else. And I sure can’t be embracing something wonderful IF my arms and shoulders are weighed down with the burden of unforgiveness.

    My philosophy is travel light and keep my eye on the truth and light. May God bless those who try to trip me up or cause me to stumble for a moment. That doesn’t mean I agree with every person or appreciate things they have done to me or others, but if it happened to me I know God knows about it and He can handle it. I read the Old Testament, believe me anything I could possibly do to someone who has done me wrong is NOTHING compared to what God can do to them. 😀

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