Forgiveness is tough, and it isn’t something that I can just do once and for all. I have to keep forgiving over and over again when my mind or circumstances bring the hurt to the surface all over again. I am experiencing this kind of struggle as I deal with divorce in my extended family. I’m a protective big sister even though my brother has the Lord at his side and can take care of himself!
I think this might be the kind of forgiving that Jesus was referring to here:
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
The only thing is, the person who sinned never did repent but keeps on sinning. Is forgiveness required then? I think it must be…because otherwise bubbling cauldrons of bitterness would rise up in us. It does not hurt the sinner for me to harbor a grudge; in fact, the only one it hurts is me.
Jesus’ disciples had a difficult time swallowing that command to forgive over and over again. They asked him to increase their faith. In other words, they asked for the ability to keep forgiving.
Jesus did not coddle them. Rather, he responded to their request with a story about duty and a warning that they should not expect to receive any special alcolades for granting their forgiveness to the one who sinned against them. Such action was their duty just as surely as it is a servant’s duty to do his master’s bidding.
7“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?8Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ “
So, in this vein, I should continue to forgive…not because she deserves it…not because I feel like it, but because it is my duty as Christ’s follower.