HOW MANY TIMES?
Read: Matthew 18:15-21
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (NIV Matthew 18:15-21)
Study: In these verses, Jesus looked ahead to when his followers would live and worship in assemblies (or “churches”). He said they needed to deal with hurts and failures through forgiveness and reconciliation. Even if people didn’t want to reconcile, Jesus did not prescribe “shunning,” for he himself often reached out to “Gentiles and tax collectors,” after all. His approach was so different that Peter asked how many times it had to be followed. Is there a sense in which you think Peter was raising a legitimate concern? How can you tell the difference between a person who is abusing a relationship, who seems to have no intention of allowing “forgiveness” to change what’s hurtful, and one who is honestly seeking forgiveness, even for a repeat offense?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being realistic and honest about the fact that we will all mess up, and need forgiveness from you and one another. Keep me forgiving as well as forgiven. Amen