May 28, 2017

Forgiving Others Easily and Often Is No Big Deal

Luke 17:1-10 (NASB)

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

The ten verses we will read this morning contain some of the strongest teachings of Jesus Christ. Were it not for the fact He is Creator of all and has all authority (Mt. 28:18), we might be tempted to dismiss it.

  1. Christ warns us that following Him is dangerous.
    It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come” (v. 1). We get our English scandal from the Greek word translated “stumbling block.” Greeks would often trap animals by setting up a “scandal” (trap). So too, we have enemies that “set traps.” The “rich man” treated his dogs better than Lazarus (Luke 16).
    1. Even hurtful scandals ultimately redound to God’s glory.
      “Even the wrath of man will praise You; the remnant of wrath You will restrain” (Psalm 76:10). “What will not turn to God’s praise, shall not be suffered to break out” Matthew Henry.
    2. God will properly punish those who seek to harm His people.
      But woe to him through whom they (the stumbling blocks) come” (v. 1). Jesus here refers to an ancient form of capital punishment reserved for only the most reprehensible criminals. He is saying that earthly capital punishment is better than facing God who will hold him accountable.
       
  2. Christ calls us to forgive those who miss the mark.
    Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (v. 2).
    1. Christians are to talk to, not about, sinners who miss the mark.
      The word rebuke does not mean, “ream out.” On the contrary, the root word speaks of esteem. If you don’t esteem a person enough to talk to him and with him, then the problem is in you.
    2. We speak with someone in humility and show them their error.
      The problem we have is that “We aren’t on our guard!” We think we’re better, so we scream.
    3. Brothers can’t seek forgiveness unless they are shown where they’ve missed the mark.
      Where shunning and separation among the saints occurs, it’s because of selfishness and shame.
       
  3. Christ calls us to forgive those who scandalize us.
    If he sins against you seven times…and returns… seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (vs. 4). If no verse existed in the NT but this one, then Christianity in all its grace and beauty would be seen.
    1. Sin doesn’t stop when you become a saint, shame does.
      “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?” No. Christ says, “Sin against me once, twice, three, four, five, six, seven times … no shame on either of us.” Relational Rule #1.
    2. Grace calls us to say we are sinners and that Christ is our Savior.
      Notice the language of Jesus, “If he comes back to you ‘saying’ I repent, forgive him” (v. 4). Love believes all things. That’s love. When you don’t believe all things, then that’s not love.
    3. We forgive others precisely as Christ has forgiven us.
      The number seven in this text is most likely a Hebrew way of speaking of “infinity.” It’s a little like the number 1,000 in Hebrew as in “My father owns the cattle on 1,000 hills” (Psalm 50:10).
       
  4. Forgiving others easily and often is no big deal.
    With mouths wide open, and eyes big as saucers, the disciples respond to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Beginning with v. 5 and going through v. 10 Jesus clears up some of the disciples’ misconceptions.
    1. It’s never the amount of faith that is important, it’s the object of your faith (v. 6).
    2. Christ is the Captain of our souls and we are His servants so we do what He says (vs. 7-8).
    3. Forgiving other people is no big deal, but it is the evidence you are really Christ’s (vs. 9-10).

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.