Moving on, letting go, and not holding on to resentment
We are asked to grant forgiveness for a massive range of emotional or physical actions. Children say things when in an emotional state that may shock, or hurt the feelings of their parents. Friends may forget to include us in an important activity. Family members we love may treat us terribly, physically, verbally, or emotionally.
Luke was the only gentile disciple of Christ, during Christ’s lifetime, with writings approved in the cannon comprising the New Testament. Luke was Greek. He was believed to be a physician. In the 17th chapter of the Testament attributed to him, Luke recounts Christ’s discussion of forgiveness and faith.
17 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
Christ is teaching the Disciples, and us, about forgiveness, and what is expected of them regarding it. He flat tells them in verse one that “it is impossible but that offenses will come.” They are going to be offended. People are not going to like what they say about Christ. There are going to be things said, and done, that will cause emotional, and possibly physical, harm to them.
Christ says, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:2). While this sounds a little rough, keep in mind Christ came to provide eternal salvation of our soul, or spirit, not our physical bodies. So He is not suggesting physical harm to non-believers.
What He is saying is that there will be an eternal penalty to anyone rejecting Christ who offends, or causes harm to, a “little one.” The phrase “little one” means new believer. The believer goes through stages just as we do in life. A new believer is considered young, or little. Lambs are younger than sheep.
In the next verse, Christ immediately instructs the Disciples “Take heed to yourselves.” It is very important for them to forgive as they preach and teach forgiveness. It is a command of Christ, and not up for discussion. They will be spreading the Gospel to all the world. They will be teaching generations how to live according to His example and instruction. They must be careful to also practice what they teach.
Christ teaches them exactly what they are to do. If someone does wrong to them, they are to rebuke them. That is, they are to tell them what has happened to cause the believer pain. The online Oxford Dictionary includes the language “sharp disapproval or criticism” in the definition of rebuke, both as a verb and noun. Then, if the offender repents, or apologizes, they are to forgive him.
To drive the lesson home Christ further explains that they are to forgive, even if the person offends them “seven times in a day.”
Some like to say, “I will forgive, but I will not forget.” I ask you to consider, is that truly forgiveness? Why are we expected, required, to forgive? Because we are forgiven when we repent to Christ. Part of His forgiveness is forgetting. When our sins are forgiven our slate is wiped clean.
Have you ever been asked to forgive someone? Did you grant them forgiveness? Did you bring the offense back up when you were angry with them?
I cannot accuse you of unforgiveness. What I can do is say when I find myself doing that I speak with the Lord. I tell Him that I found myself angry about something I thought I had forgiven. I ask Him to help me let go of the pain so that I can heal.