Forgiveness & the Open Door For Further Offense & Wrong

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage begins with the eleventh verse of the seventeenth chapter and continues through to the eighth verse of the eighteenth chapter. “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:11-19). “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they would, they planted, they builder; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, eh which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, ink that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever ever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luke 17:20-37). “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. NEverhtless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8). When you come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke you will find Jesus speaking directly unto His disciples. What makes how this particular chapter begins and opens so incredibly unique and telling when you take the time to consider it is when you read how Jesus uses the words “It is impossible.” This is actually quite powerful when you take the time to consider the tremendous meaning of these words for we know that the angel Gabriel emphatically declared unto Mary in Nazareth of Galilee that with God nothing shall be impossible. We also know that Jesus Himself declared unto His disciples that there would be nothing impossible with them if they believed, did not doubt and had even faith the size of a mustard seed. What we find here in this particular passage of Scripture is Jesus declaring unto His disciples that there is something that is impossible in this life. What’s more is that within this passage we find Jesus declaring that there is something that is indeed impossible in the realm of time and space—something which we must needs recognize and understand. With this being said I am absolutely convinced that directly connected to and associated to the words found in this passage are the words which were written by the apostle Peter in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle written unto the scattered and suffering saints throughout Asia. I am also reminded of the words which our Lord Himself spoke and delivered unto the disciples in His famous Sermon on the Mount recorded in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. I am also reminded of the words which are also find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew in the tenth chapter where we find Jesus ordaining and sending His twelve disciples as apostles unto the lost sheep of Israel. This is in addition to the words which we find in the eighteenth and twenty-fifth chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the same author. I am absolutely convinced that if we want to truly recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage—and not only the words which are found in this passage but also in the New Testament itself concerning that which Jesus was truly speaking of—you must needs consider these other passages as well. It is in the opening verses of the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we find the author declaring and proclaiming how it was impossible but that offenses would come. Oh it is absolutely criticaL we pay close attention to those words for those few words have the ability to completely alter and transform our entire world view. If you truly take the time to consider those words and allow them to sink into your heart you will encounter something which must needs be recognized within our own hearts and lives. There is not a not in my mind that when we read the words found in the opening verses of the seventeenth chapter we are brought face to face with something which is entirely and altogether astonishing and intriguing when we think about our world view in this life. With these words Jesus makes a powerful statement concerning that generation in which He lived and walked—and not only that generation but also culture and society in general. It is with these words Jesus makes the profound declaration that it is impossible but that offenses come—a statement which does in fact indicate and conclude that offenses can and will come. What’s more is that when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the truth that we dare not and ought not to be surprised by offenses—not only offenses before and all around us but even offenses which might very well occur within our own hearts and lives. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus making a very telling and striking declaration concerning offenses—namely that offenses are indeed inevitable and unavoidable. With these words Jesus does indeed and does in fact declare unto His disciples that it is truly impossible but that offenses can and will come—something which is absolutely necessary to think about and consider. These words which Jesus spoke are especially intriguing when you consider the tremendous reality surrounding Simon called Peter’s question unto Jesus concerning how oft his brother was able to sin against him and he forgive him. When Simon called Peter presented this question unto Jesus he did in fact ask how often his brother could sin against him and he forgive him and then added to that question a specific number of times. When speaking unto Jesus Simon called Peter asked the Lord if his brother sin against him seven times and he forgive him each of those seven times—something which the Lord Jesus would indeed refute, challenge and correct. It would be in direct response to these words and this question spoken by Simon called Peter Jesus would emphatically declare and proclaim that he ought not to forgive his brother seven times but seventy times seven. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous disparity between the number Simon called Peter presented unto Jesus and that number which the Lord Jesus did in fact present unto him. Simon called Peter believed that his brother could sin against him up to seven times and he forgive him each of those seven times, however, Jesus would declare that his brother sin against him up to seventy times seven. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we find within this passage of Scripture is not centered around the idea of offenses coming and being manifested in the earth but how we handle and how we respond to offenses. It was the Lord Jesus who did indeed and did in fact declare that it was impossible but that offenses would come and yet what we must needs recognize and understand is that there is an intrinsic link and connection between offenses coming and being offended. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the truth that offenses can indeed come and can in fact be committed against us and yet we are faced with a decision within our hearts and minds whether or not we allow the offense(s) to cause us to be offended. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to recognize that offenses can and will come and yet with each and every offense that occurs—even and especially if they occur within our own lives—we are faced with the choice whether or not we will indeed be offended with the one who offended us. OFFENSES! THE OFFENDER! OFFENDED! THE OFFENDED! I am absolutely convinced that when we think about and consider the reality and concept of offenses coming and being manifested in the earth—and not merely in the earth but within our own lives—we must needs recognize and understand that with every offense comes a choice. In fact I would dare say that each and every offense not only comes with a singular choice but it actually comes with two choices. The first choice we find ourselves facing when an offense comes is indeed whether or not we will allow ourselves to be offended as a result. The second choice is actually similar and connected to the first in that the second choice we have is whether or not we can and will forgive the offender. Each of these realities are indeed intrinsically linked and connected to the very real emotional reactions and responses of hatred, of malice, of anger, of bitterness, of resentment and the like. Oh we must needs recognize and understand how absolutely incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding offenses and how the Lord Jesus declared that it was impossible but that offenses would indeed come and be manifested within the earth. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be found with Jesus making the declaration that it is impossible but that offenses would indeed come. Even with this being said the Lord Jesus would go on to pronounce woe upon those through whom the offenses would indeed come and be manifested within the earth. Jesus would continue and go on to declare that it were better for the offender and that one through whom the offense came that a millstone be hanged about his neck and he be cast into the sea than that he should offend one such little one in the kingdom of heaven. Moreover the Lord Jesus would also follow these words by instructing, warning and cautioning His disciples to take heed to themselves and if their brother trespass against them they are to rebuke him. If their brother who trespassed against them and repents when they rebuke him they are to forgive that brother. What comes after this is all the more intriguing when you consider how Jesus would go on to declare that if their brother trespass against them seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, “I repent” they ought to forgive them. Oh I am convinced we must needs stop here and consider how many of us struggle and have a hard time with our brother sinning and trespassing against us one time. There are times within our lives when our brother(s) and/or sister(s) sin against us once in a day and whether or not we are able to forgive them. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must needs recognize and understand that many of us struggle with whether or not we are able to forgive our brother if he sin against us—not once in a day but rather seven times in a day. The more I sit here and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that surrounds the words of Jesus. It would be Jesus who did indeed and did in fact declare that it was impossible that offenses could and would come and be manifested in the earth. With this being said, however, Jesus would flip the script and use the concept of offenses to challenge His disciples—and not only challenge them but challenge them concerning forgiveness. As you read the words presented within this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus using this same time to declare unto His disciples how they ought to take heed unto themselves if their brother trespass against them and how they ought to rebuke. If they rebuked their brother who trespassed against them and that brother repents of the trespass they are to forgive him. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider the fact that Jesus raised the price and upped the responsibility of His disciples when He declared that if their brother sinned and trespassed against them seven times in a day they were to forgive them each of those times. Stop and consider how incredibly difficult this truly is when you think about when the last time was someone sinned and trespassed against you in a single day. Not only this but stop and consider when the last time was someone sinned against you more than once in a single day. What’s more is that when you read the words presented in this passage you will find Jesus doesn’t speak of an enemy or an adversary sinning and trespassing against His disciples. If you want to truly understand the words and language Jesus used when speaking unto His disciples you must needs recognize and understand that he didn’t speak of an enemy and/or adversary sinning and trespassing against His disciples. Instead the words which the Lord Jesus used would reference and speak of a brother sinning and trespassing against them. If I am being honest with you who might be reading these words I find it absolutely necessary to declare unto you that only a brother and/or someone who is close enough to you would have the chance and opportunity to sin against you more than once. More often than not it is and it will be those who are closest to us who can offend us, sin against us, trespass against us, wrong us and wound us the most. Consider how it was one of Jesus’ own disciples—Judas Iscariot—whom He had personally called and chosen to walk with and follow Him who betrayed Him. Consider also how it was one of David’s own sons—Absalom—who would rise up against him and seek to usurp the throne through means of manipulation and stealing the hearts of the people. Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within them we don’t merely find Jesus speaking of an enemy or an adversary trespassing against one of His disciples but rather we find Him speaking of a brother sinning and trespassing against them. Oh what makes this so incredibly unique and challenging when you consider it is when you how the Lord Jesus would declare that it was impossible but that offense would come and would then go on to speak of trespasses and forgiveness. This is something we must needs recognize and pay careful attention to within our hearts and lives for what we find here brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding offenses, trespasses, wrongdoing, sin and the like. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within it we are brought face to face—not only with the truth that offenses can and will come but also that there can and there will be those who will offend us. What’s more is that with every offense and with every trespass comes the responsibility to rebuke such a brother—and not rebuking them with the express intention of condemning and judging them but rather to forgive them. I read the words presented in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be reminded of the incredible truth that when Jesus spoke of rebuking that brother who trespassed against another they were to rebuke them. With this being said, however, their rebuking that brother who trespassed against them was not with nor was it for the express intention of condemning and judging them. Not only this but we must needs recognize and understand that rebuking that brother who sinned and trespassed against us was not for the purpose of us pointing the finger at them as though they were solely the guilty party. Oh it would be very easy to rebuke our brother who has sinned and trespassed against us and fail to realize that there might very well have been times when we ourselves have sinned and trespassed against another. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies which is found is found in this passage of Scripture is that at the very heart and center of this rebuking that brother who sinned and trespassed against us is the principle of the mote and the beam which the Lord Jesus spoke of in His famous Sermon on the Mount. I am absolutely convinced that when we think about the principle of rebuking that brother who sinned and trespassed against us we must needs recognize and understand that we dare not and must not rebuke them with the express intention of condemning, judging and criticizing them for their words and/or their actions against us. It would be very easy to think and consider that when we rebuke our brother and/or our sister who sinned and trespassed against us that we are somehow free to do so while also condemning, judging and criticizing them. Oh I am absolutely convinced that within the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find incredibly powerful language completely debunking this particular mindset of rebuking a brother or sister who has sinned and trespassed against us and the call to forgive them. Not only this but I am also convinced there is a strong link and connection between the words presented in chapters five through seven in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and the words which are found in the sixth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12). These words describe and speak of those who are persecute for righteousness’ sake and how theirs is the kingdom of heaven. With these words Jesus describes men and women as being blessed when men revile them, and persecute them, and shall say all manner of evil against them falsely for His sake. Moreover Jesus would go on to instruct them to rejoice and be exceeding glad for great was their reward in heaven for so persecuted the prophets which were before them. It is absolutely necessary yo consider these words for when you come to the twenty-first verse of the fifth chapter you will find the following words: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Rafa, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost fathering” (Matthew 5:21-26). Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the fifth chapter and finish and conclude it and their intrinsic link and relationship to the words which are presented in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue the at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:38-42). “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sense that rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48). Consider the following words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples concerning prayer—and not only prayer but also concerning the powerful and wonderful link between prayer and forgiveness of others: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: fFor thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9-15). Here are the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in the seventh chapter of this same New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the chapter: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5). Here are these words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus in the same Sermon on the Mount unto His disciples and those who would gather themselves together to hear and listen to Him speak: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Here are the words which you will find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke which contain some of the same language which was used in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the twenty-seventh verse: “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Blessed them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smite the thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the us thankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be concerned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:27-38). Consider if you will the following words which are found in the same chapter within the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke beginning with the thirty-ninth verse: “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one thaty is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceives the not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrites, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure os his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:39-45). With all of this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the following words which are present in the opening verses of the sixth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the following words found within this chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by your are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are lease esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. It is so, that there is not a wise. Man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren” (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). With each of these passages of Scripture I am also convinced we must needs pay attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. In the twelfth chapter of this New Testament epistle you will find incredibly powerful language surrounding our need to be those who not only live our lives un-offended but also those who are willing to live forgiving lives as we choose to forgive rather than condemn, hold a grudge, judge, criticize and even harbor bitterness, resentment, anger, hostility, malice and the like within our hearts. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Roman saints beginning to read with and from the ninth verse: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21). Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture—particularly and especially the words about judging not lest we be judged, condemning not that we be not condemned and the warning against the hypocrisy of judging a brother or sister based on the mote that is in their own eye while we completely and utterly ignore the beam or log that is present within our own eye. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find Jesus speaking unto His disciples and instructing them to take heed to themselves—and not merely taking heed to themselves but taking heed to themselves how they handled offenses and trespasses committed against them. Beginning with the third verse of this passage of Scripture we find Jesus instructing His disciples to take heed to themselves when their brother trespass against them and how they ought to rebuke that brother or sister. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which it’s that when our brother trespass against us we are to rebuke him—yet we are not to rebuke him with the express intention of judging, condemning and criticizing him. It would be very easy to rebuke our brother and at the same time do so without the willingness within our hearts to forgive him and yet the truth of the matter is that we must needs understand that when we rebuke our brother who has sinned against us we do so with the express purpose and intention of forgiving them. There would be those who would read the words found in this passage of Scripture and think about the fact that when Jesus spoke unto His disciples and instructed them to rebuke that brother who trespassed against them He was giving them license to do so with judgment, condemnation and the like within their hearts. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that when Jesus instructed His disciples to rebuke that brother who sinned and trespassed against them He used it in direct reference to forgive that brother or sister who trespassed against them. I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the truth that when a brother sin and/or trespass against us our first and primary objective is not to be to be offended, to hold a grudge and/or even to be offended. It would be very easy and within our own frail human nature to harbor a grudge and engage in bitterness and be offended with that brother or sister who trespassed against us and yet the truth of the matter is that our first response to offense and one who had offended us is to forgive them—and not merely forgive them but forgive from the heart. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will find Jesus speaking unto His disciples concerning their brother or sister who should happen to sin and trespass against them and how they ought to rebuke them—and not only rebuke them but do so with the express purpose of forgiving them. I cannot express how incredibly important this truly is when you take the time to think about it for when you think about a brother or sister who sinned and trespassed against you you must needs admit that your first and natural reaction and response is not to forgive them. If we are being honest with each other our first reaction and response when our brother sin and trespass against us is to imprison them within our minds in the prison of unforgiveness, bitterness and offense. Forgiveness not only goes against our very nature but it also goes against absolutely everything that is present within our culture and society. Forgiveness is not only counter-nature but it is also counter-cultural and counter-society. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding offenses and how Jesus declared that it was impossible that offenses would come in the earth. As you read the words found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the beloved physician Luke I can’t help but be reminded of the words the Lord Jesus spoke and are recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In fact I would dare say that the words presented in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and the words which are found in this particular chapter are intrinsically linked and connected to each other. The entire eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew calls and draws our attention—not only to sins, trespasses and offenses but also to forgiveness and the need to forgive others who have sinned and trespassed against us. What’s more is that it is in the eighteenth chapter where we find the second mention of the word “church” as it was presented within this New Testament gospel—the first being mentioned in the sixteenth chapter when Jesus declared unto Simon called Peter how it would be “upon this rock” He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning with the first verse of the chapter: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive on such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:1-9). “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:10-14). “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:15-20). “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, hav e patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou o west. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after hat he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:21-35). I firmly believe that we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words and language which is found in this passage of Scripture for within Jesus speaks of a brother who sins and trespasses against one of His own. The first course of action is to go unto that brother and tell them of their fault between them and you alone—an action that would seek to not only foster reconciliation but also forgiveness and deliverance. What makes these words spoken by Jesus so incredibly unique and telling when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how He suggested and implied that this brother who sinned and trespassed against one of His own might not hear them and would despise the rebuke and the correction intended on bringing forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. Should that brother which sinned and trespassed against you not hear their fault when it is spoken and brought up between the two individuals then the one who was sinned and trespassed against ought to take one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Jesus would, however, go on to suggest the possibility that even when bringing one or two more the matter would not be resolved and that brother who sinned and trespassed against them would not hear that which was spoken. This would lead Jesus to speak unto His disciples concerning their taking the matter finally and ultimately unto the church and tell the matter to the church. Even with this being said, however, it is possible that this brother who sinned and trespassed against another would not even hear the church and it would be at this time when that brother ought to be treated and regarded as a heathen man and a publican. RECONCILIATION! RESTORATION! FORGIVENESS! If you want to truly understand the words and language which is found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke I would dare say that you must needs recognize that rebuking a brother who has sinned and trespassed against you and even telling your brother of their trespass against you has at the very heart and center of it forgiveness. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this incredible truth for there are those who think and feel that rebuking a brother who has sinned and trespassed against us is with and for the sole purpose and intention of judging, condemning and criticizing that particular one. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case for when we tell our brother of their trespass against us and when we rebuke them we do so with and for the express purpose of reconciliation and restoration. Oh how many men and women would dare read the words found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke and think that rebuking a brother is for the purpose of condemning, judging and criticizing that brother or sister for their fault, for their wrong, for their sin and for their trespass? What we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words is that when we rebuke a brother who has sinned and trespassed against us we do so that we might be reconciled unto that brother. What’s more is that we not only do it that we might be reconciled unto that brother but we do so that we might forgive that brother or sister who has sinned and trespassed against us. Oh there is something truly incredible and remarkable about the words which are found here for they call and draw our attention to the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the need to forgive—and not only to forgive but also to forgive from the heart. If you continue reading the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find the apostles speaking and saying unto the Lord entreating and asking Him to increase their faith. Oh how absolutely captivating and telling this truly is when you take the time to consider it for they did not ask the Lord to increase their joy, or increase their happiness or to increase their rejoicing. That which the disciples entreated and asked the Lord to do was to increase their faith and we can’t help but think about how this would be intrinsically linked to that which preceded this passage in the same chapter. It would be in the opening verses of this chapter we find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that it was impossible but that offenses would come and would pronounce woe unto those through whom the offenses would come. What’s more is Jesus would go on to speak and declare unto His disciples how they needed to take heed unto themselves when their brother trespassed against them and how they were to rebuke them. The sole purpose of the rebuke was not to judge or to condemn but rather forgiveness—and not merely forgiveness but also that through forgiveness reconciliation and restoration might take place. As if this weren’t enough you find the Lord Jesus going on to declare unto His disciples that if their brother sin and trespass against them seven times in a day and seven times in a day they turn again to them speaking of repentance they are to forgive that brother. It would be in direct response to the call to forgive that brother or sister who sinned and trespassed against them the disciples would ask the Lord to increase their faith—something which warrants strong and powerful consideration. Oh how absolutely necessary it is to recognize and understand that when we forgive—not only are we required to forgive from the heart but it also takes faith to forgive our brother or sister who has trespassed against us. The disciples would ask the L>rod to increase their faith and it would be here in this passage of Scripture the Lord would speak unto them concerning faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed: “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, if ye had faith as a grain of mustard see, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing. Or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when y e shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:5-10). I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible that truly is—to ask the Lord to increase your faith. Think about what the disciples must have thought about the faith which they perceived themselves to have possessed—particularly and especially in light of the call to forgive their brother who sinned and trespassed against them seven times in a day and seven times in a day come unto them and not only asked for forgiveness but also repented. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder how you and I would respond if our brother and/or sister sinned and trespassed us once in a single day. Most of us don’t have the capacity to forgive our brother when they sin against us once in a day let alone forgiving them for sinning against us seven times in a day. What adds even more to this is when I consider what I have previously written concerning forgiveness and how forgiveness does indeed and does in fact leave the door open to be wronged against. If you stop and think about it forgiveness is that which can in fact and does indeed leave the door open for that one who has wronged you to sin and trespass against you again. We would be incredibly naïve to think that the one who sinned and trespassed against us once in a day is not capable of sinning against you a second time in a day. Not only this but the words which the Lord Jesus spoke on this particular occasion suggests that it is possible for that same brother to sin and trespass against you up to seven times in a single day. What a truly astounding and remarkable thought this truly is when you consider how Jesus not only said that it was impossible for offenses to come but He also spoke of your brother or sister sinning and trespassing against you seven times in a day. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning forgiveness it’s that forgiveness is indeed a process and might very well be required of us on more than one occasion—even on more than one occasion in a single day. I read the words presented in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredible need to consider how it is impossible that offenses to come—and not only is it impossible for offenses to come but it is also impossible to stop and even prevent offenses from coming. In fact it is when you read the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus speaking of the last days and how many will be offended. Not only will many be offended but there will also be many whose love within their hearts can and will grow cold. I am absolutely convinced that we must needs consider the words which are found in the tenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is in these two chapters when we encounter the tremendous truth of being hated of all men and all nations for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that it is in these two chapters where we also find the Lord Jesus speaking of the last days and how in the last days the love of many will grow cold. As if this weren’t enough we also find Jesus speaking of brother betraying brother unto the death, father betraying the son, mother betraying daughter, daughter betraying mother, mother-in-law betraying daughter-in-law and vice versa. It is going to be in the last days—days in which we are present living—when we will not only see the love of many growing cold but we will also see offenses increase exponentially. With this in mind I Invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the third chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the mist of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a. Testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33). “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14). “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn way. For of this sort are they which creep into houses and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7). I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to these passages for the Lord Jesus painted an incredibly intriguing picture of the last days. It was the Lord Jesus who would in fact speak of the last days and how in the last days there would be national and international hostility and conflict, however, in addition to this there would be conflict and hostility on a personal level. Although the Lord Jesus would indeed speak of nation rising against nation and kingdom rising against kingdom he would also speak of His disciples being delivered up to be afflicted—and not only being afflicted but also being killed. Moreover the Lord Jesus would once more declare unto the disciples that they would be hated—and hated of all nations—for His name’s sake. Building upon this personal animosity, hostility and conflict Jesus would declare how many would be offended and would betray one another and would hate one another. This would be the context, the breeding ground, the environment and the atmosphere that would surround false prophets rising up and being able to deceive many. Not only this but it is in this context that iniquity will abound and as a direct result and byproduct would cause the love of many to wax cold. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for if there are two things we must needs recognize is not only impossible for them not to come but also should anticipate and expect it’s suffering and offenses. I firmly believe there are a number of men and women among us in the house of God who are somehow surprised by offenses when they come—and not only surprised by offenses but also surprised by suffering. It was the Lord Jesus who emphatically declared that it was indeed impossible for offenses to come and it was one of His own disciples—the apostle Peter—who when writing unto saints which were scattered and suffering instructed them not to be surprised or astonished by suffering. As I write these words I am absolutely convinced that there are a number of men and women among us today who are somehow surprised, shocked and taken back when offenses rise up in their lives. What’s more is I am convinced there are men and women among us who are somehow shocked and surprised when suffering, when affliction, and even when persecution rises up within their lives. If I am being honest with those who might be reading these words—specifically those in the Western world and the United States—I would dare say that we have not seen suffering, we have not seen affliction and we have not seen persecution on the scale the apostles and the early Church saw it during the days of the book of Acts and even after the book of Acts concluded. We in this nation and country have not seen suffering, nor have we seen affliction, nor have we even seen persecution on the level and scale that is mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts which caused the saints of God and disciples of Christ to be scattered. What’s more is that we in this nation—even us in the Western world—have not seen persecution, suffering and affliction on the scale and level as those in Muslim and Islamic countries such as Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and the like. .There are indeed nations which are so steeped in persecution of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ that suffering and affliction is the norm for them. There are disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who have indeed been forced to flee their homes, their possessions and their lives because of how intense the persecution, the suffering and the affliction truly is in their surrounding cities, towns and villages. That which we find within the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative is not only language that emphatically declares how it is impossible for offenses to come but it also highlights and underscores that it is possible for a brother and/or a sister to not only sin against you but sin against you seven times in a single day. At the very heart and center of this is the incredible need to always pursue restoration, reconciliation and forgiveness for this is ultimately at the very heart of the gospel as we ourselves have been forgiven our many debts, our many transgressions and our many iniquities. It is with all of this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter. I find it is absolutely necessary and incumbent we consider these words for if there is one thing we must needs recognize when seeking to live as disciples of Jesus in this present generation in the midst of this culture and society we must not be surprised or taken back by offenses or suffering. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that we are not to be surprised by offenses and must needs expect and anticipate them from taking place within our lives at various times. What’s more is that there is a great need to be those who are not surprised by persecution, by suffering and by affliction when they do in fact arise. In addition to this we must be those who are ready, willing and able to not only accept suffering and offenses but also give ourselves wholeheartedly to forgiveness in the midst of them. We dare not and must not miss out on how critical and vital this is for as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we must be those who are wholeheartedly given to restoration and reconciliation and live our lives absent offense in our hearts mingled together with any root of bitterness, malice, hatred, animosity. It is for this reason I am absolutely convinced the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to increase their faith for there is absolutely no way we can hope and/or think to forgive from the heart and forgive that we might be forgiven without and apart from faith. What’s more is that it is only through faith that we are able to uproot and command any tree of bitterness and/or offense within our heart to be removed. What an incredibly powerful thing this is to think about and consider when you ask yourself what the tree mentioned by the Lord Jesus is and could possibly be. In the context of offenses and forgiveness I would dare say that the tree which He was referring to might very well be any tree of bitterness which is not pulled up and uprooted at the source and that which is present beneath the surface. As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it is vital for your spiritual growth and maturity to understand that offenses can and will come. What we must needs recognize, however, is that although offenses can and will come we must diligently guard our hearts against being offended by the offender and allowing any root of bitterness to lay hold of our heart and mind. In addition to this we must needs recognize that if we somehow choose to live absent forgiveness in our hearts and choose instead to give ourselves to bitterness and offense—not only do we hold the offender hostage and prisoner within our minds without them knowing it but we also hold ourselves prisoner and captivate as well. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many men and women we have held as hostages and prisoners within our minds that truly do need to be loosed on the earth that they might be loosed in heaven. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to this within our own hearts and lives as we are indeed called to live our lives completely and utterly set free and delivered from all forms of bitterness, offense, malice, hatred, and the like. What’s more is that it is through forgiveness we are indeed able to not only deliver ourselves from the offense(s) we carry but we are also able to deliver those whom we have held hostage and prisoner within our own hearts and minds unnecessarily. With this in mind I feel it is absolutely necessary to call your attention to and leave you with the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle written unto the saints which were scattered and suffering: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: ;for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he 9is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19). “Yea, all of you. Be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that ye may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he care that for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s