“And he said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.’” Luke 17:1-4
My daughter is almost five years old, and my son will turn three later this year. Molly’s favorite thing to do is to tell Ander when he is doing something wrong. Her justification for it is, “Well I want to be a good big sister.” We have been working on explaining that being a good big sister can mean just playing with him, and keeping him safe. It does not mean correcting every little thing that he does. It is in our nature as humans to want to correct one another, and scripturally we see that it is important for fellow believers to hold each other accountable to what Scripture says. For many of us, we read “if your brother sins, rebuke him” and cannot wait to follow that Scripture, but then we struggle with “if he repents, forgive him.”
When there is correction and repentance there must be forgiveness. One of the biggest issues I see in the church is people carrying around past hurts, not willing to forgive, and move on. If someone sins against you and they apologize and ask for forgiveness, Scripture commands us to forgive that person. It goes as far as to say that they could sin against you seven times in a day, ask for forgiveness each time, and you must forgive them. This is so difficult to do as sinful humans. We would rather hold on to our hurt, instead of releasing it. When we withhold forgiveness we do more harm to ourselves than anything. Our example of forgiveness is the Lord, He is willing to forgive any that come to Him and ask for it. How many times each day do you sin against God, yet He still forgives. When we withhold forgiveness, we become bitter, and when we are bitter we become ineffective for the Gospel. I have seen so many people derailed in their walk with the Lord because they have unforgiveness they cannot release. If someone is currently coming to your mind today that you need to forgive, take that step today, and reach out. It is never too late to forgive and move forward effectively in the mission of the Gospel.