“So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.”
– Luke 17:3
Forgiveness is not always an easy thing to do. It is complicated by the impact or enormity of the offense.
Pope Benedict XVI said: “Those… who recognize that they are weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and obtain from him grace and forgiveness.”
Part of being Christian is being able to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us.
Lessons on forgiveness and sin
Chapter 17 from the book of Luke contains some of the most instructional Bible verses about forgiveness found in the Gospels.
Luke 17 begins with Jesus telling his disciples that it is inevitable in life that we will be tempted with sin that causes us to stumble.
Don’t cause others to sin
But Jesus warns “woe to the one through whom they come!” (LK 17:1). In other words, sinning of our own accord is one thing, but being someone who causes others to sin is worse.
To illustrate that point, Jesus said:
“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
– Luke 17:2
By “little ones” Jesus refers to his Christian followers. And woe to one who professes to be religious, yet sets a bad example and causes others to yield to temptation and sin.
This also goes for being a bad example that causes others to lose their faith.
Forgive because God forgave you
Jesus told his disciples:
“If your brother or sister a sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
– Luke 17:3
Jesus also said:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
– Matthew 6:14-15
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
– Mark 11:25
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
The apostle Paul wrote:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
– Ephesians 4:32
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
– Colossians 3:13