How Often Should I Forgive? – 1


*Pastor’s Note: So many people have such a hard time with forgiveness today and especially as we see such blatant evil starting to come out of the darkness. Yet, as a chosen people, as followers of Jesus Christ, forgiveness is a command that has its personal rewards and it is for the benefit of the individual disciple as well as the Body of Christ, the True Church of brothers and sisters.

As part of this weeks Body Ministry category I am posting an article adapted from Cecil E. Sherman’s Formation Commentary on Matthew. There are a couple of things that I have not kept in the post, things that will NOT change the flow of the message in the least. Also I changed the Scripture verses to the New King James Version.

It will be broken up into four parts throughout this week. Also, any images displayed are not part of the original, but put in as part of my posting. My prayer is that you will be blessed, inspired and encouraged by this to move forward towards Christ Jesus in strength!


Introduction

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” – Matthew 18:21

How often should I forgive? The answer is simple. Jesus said to forgive without limit. “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (v. 22). But if you read verses 15–35, you will get a larger picture—and a more complex one. I will address the real question the early church was facing and a question that still troubles the church today.

The people who made up the early church were not all saints or heroes. They were not all apostles, nor were they clones of the apostle Paul. They were just people. And because they were just people, saved by grace but still flesh and blood like you and me, they did not always get along. Members of the Christian community sinned. Sometimes when these people sinned, they were not repentant. They just kept on sinning. Sometimes the sins broke fellowship and hurt folks, and no effort at reconciliation or restoration would amend bad conduct. What then? Now we are beginning to see the problem that prompted Peter’s question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?”

One way the modern church deals with sin in the membership is to offer forgiveness automatically. We just don’t deal with church discipline anymore. You can’t find a self-respecting church that will discipline a member for anything. An alcoholic can refuse to take responsibility for their life; we forgive. A minister can take advantage of his office and commit sexual sin while doing pastoral counseling; we forgive. A husband can abuse his wife; we turn away. A child can beg for her parents’ love and time and get nothing; we overlook the plea. On and on this sort of turning away from church discipline goes.

Refusing to deal with sin in the congregation under the guise of quick forgiveness is not church. It is flight from the kind of life that should be present in the congregation. We are called to care for each other. We are called to high living. We are called to model relationships that attract to the faith. So we have to deal with sin in the house. Peter’s question must be asked by the modern church. What do we do with people who don’t meet the standard?

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Adapted From: Cecil E. Sherman, Cecil Sherman Formations Commentary: Matthew – Mark.
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of intercessory prayer, encouragement and exhortation of the Word of God and author of the ministry blog, For The Love of God. I live in Delta, Colorado with my beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom we affectionately call Bella.
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