Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’ ”
Jesus is speaking about one disciple sinning against another. This would have been really painful for this small group of people and yet, they were to care for one another so that no one could become a stumbling block. Holding one another accountable was a responsibility of discipleship. The grace of Jesus is to be extended to those who sin against us. In obedience and love we forgive again and again with the hope of helping out our brother or sister.
Lest we think that we are doing something outstanding by forgiving, we must recognize that this is simple obedience to Christ. This is his nature which is to be revealed in our behaviors and responses. Forgiving is simply what we ought to do.
How often do we find it challenging to come alongside those who are struggling? I don't think that Jesus is encouraging us to be critical, but loving and gentle. At the same time, this takes time and energy. I also know that I can become frustrated when someone doesn't seem to be getting things right. We expect them to learn and eventually our patience runs thin.
As we grow spiritually, we are to become more like Christ. Christ gave up his entire life to forgive us. We are called to become like him therefore to have great compassion for those who have sinned. We must forgive over and over again for the sake of the entire community of faith.
Faithful obedience turns the extraordinary into the ordinary. We don't receive praise for our actions, but we simply walk after Jesus.
Lord, thank you for your grace and may I show that love and grace to others. Amen.