Luke 17:3-4, “So watch yourselves! If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
So, if you have lived on this planet for more than a day, you have probably been offended and offended someone else. As a result, you had to forgive or ask for forgiveness. In the most optimal conditions, the roots of a tree can grow as wide and as deep underground as the height of the tree above ground. Likewise, the roots of unforgiveness can grow within the recesses of our hearts, strangling our emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. Knowing this, Jesus was very specific in telling us what we needed to do.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” This scripture tells us that one sin will condemn us to death. God saw fit to send His only son to personally carry our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. Placing this in perspective, God saw through all time to see the actual number of times we would sin against Him. He chose to work through His son that He may view us with no sin. According to Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” Since God sent His Son to forgive us for the multitude of sins that we would commit in our lifetime, do we dare keep a grudge against another person?
In verse 3, Jesus tells us to rebuke the person first. Simply put, tell the person what offended you and then give the person an opportunity to make it right. Jesus commands us that if the person repents, you must forgive. There is no room that Jesus allows for us staying angry or holding a grudge. The command is to immediately forgive. Jesus then takes it further in verse 4, telling us that if a person offends seven times a day and repents, then we are to forgive as well. What is true repentance? It is a sincere acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a strong desire to make things right. Also attached to repentance is a turning away from the behavior or sin. This is the type of repentance Jesus is referring to in this verse. What if a person offends and repents eight times a day? Are all bets off? No, of course not. Jesus is commanding us to forgive as often as is necessary. Hanging on the cross, bearing the weight of our sins, and experiencing such incredible physical pain, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
So, what happens when you harbor unforgiveness? Physically speaking, unforgiveness causes chemical imbalances within our bodies, weakens the immune system, causes fatigue and loss of sleep. Unforgiveness places the person who is holding so tightly to the offense in a prison that is very difficult to break free from. As a result, the person is always clamoring to break free. More often than not, the offender probably doesn’t even know that they offended you.
How can I forgive an offense I have been carrying? It is not easy, but it is a choice. You need to make a decision that you are going to forgive the offender and will no longer hold the debt against them. I have written the offense on a piece of paper and physically burned it. This helped me to signify that I am no longer going to allow the offense to keep hold of me. Invite God into the process. On our own, we can do very little, but God can give us the strength when we are weak. Ask God to search your heart today for any unforgiveness that may lie beneath the surface, deal with it, and move on to newfound freedom as you have never experienced before.
Prayer Starter: Father, I give You all the glory, honor, and praise. I thank You for forgiving me for my sins and the promise of eternity with You. Help me to forgive those who have offended me, as you have forgiven me for my sins. I love You and need more of You and less of me in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.