This passage today has to do with interpersonal sin and forgiving others. I really believe this passage will hit home with many people because so many have had people sin against them, and instead of addressing it Biblically, have either swept it under the rug or let resentment brew for an unhealthy period of time.
1. Dealing with Sin (v. 15-20)
In this passage we see a three-step process for when someone has sinned against you:
- Go to that person directly and have a conversation. Don’t allow the other person to go without realizing the hurt their sin has caused you. Very often, people can simply be unaware of the sinfulness of their actions and will repent immediately. Praise God if they do! But if they do not see their sin and repent, there is a second step.
- Take one or two others with you. This can help establish legitimacy to the person of their sin, and it can also give you clarity on what the sin actually is. It’s possible that you have a limited perspective on the issue and having others there can help solidify your claim, or help you see there isn’t much of one to begin with.
- Take it before the church. Once you have confronted individually and with others, if the person is still living in unrepentant sin, it is to be taken before the church. This often looks like talking to pastors for counsel, but also so that pastors can confront the person in sin as well, in hopes that they will repent.
What we need to remember here is that the point of any confrontation regarding sin against is not so that we can feel vindicated or justified, but so that the person that is in sin can be brought back to walking faithfully in a relationship with God. We must come with a heart of love and forgiveness even for those who have wronged us, as we model the heart that Jesus has for us. This idea is unpacked further in verses 21-35.
2. Having a Heart of Forgiveness (v. 21-35)
Jesus tells a parable directly following his teaching on interpersonal sin that comes from a question from Peter about how many times someone should forgive another person. It seems that the theme of the parable is summed up in verse 35: “‘So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.'” Forgiven people forgive people. This does not meant that relationships will be the same with those who have hurt us. But if we are not quick to forgive, it might be because we are slow to remember the forgiveness that Jesus has offered to us through the cross. A heart of forgiveness should naturally flow out of a deep understanding of the forgiveness we have been given through the cross.
If you have a spirit of unforgiveness in your heart, take time today to reflect on the beautiful message of the gospel: that Jesus died on the cross for your sin, offering forgiveness in a beautiful display of sacrifice. You and I did not deserve this offer of mercy and grace! In light of the grace and mercy offered to you through Jesus’ death on the cross, what steps do you need to take to honor Jesus’ sacrifice, and walk in obedience with Him?
By: Graham Withers
Note: I realize that forgiving others can take complicated forms when dealing with complicated issues. If you have questions about how this idea of forgiveness plays out in your context, our pastoral team is here for you! Please do not hesitate to contact us.