In Luke Chapter 17, Jesus says the following to His disciples:
“If your brother or sister 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 17:3-4 NIV)
In this passage, Jesus is actually asking quite a bit of His disciples. He’s asking them to do one of the most difficult things for someone to do: forgive somebody close to them. He isn’t asking them to forgive their enemies, but their friends, their “brothers and sisters.”
Our relationships with those close to us have enormous potential for joy, but can also bring the greatest hurt to us at times. Jesus knew that, and He knew that true healing and reconciliation comes from forgiving our friends who have hurt us.
Above that, Jesus seems to suggest that we should forgive them over and over again, even when they keep sinning against us.
“This seems like a little much” is what some of His disciples may have been thinking. It’s one thing to forgive our enemies, and another to forgive a friend who’s hurt you, but to continue to do it? Where is the justice in that?
Is it possible that Jesus is more interested in freedom?
Choosing to forgive is really difficult. It means choosing to trust that God is going to use the situation for His glory. It means choosing to humble ourselves, and give our opinions and perspectives a back seat to obedience to God. It also means acknowledging that God is working in the background, even when we don’t see it.
People hurt Jesus, and His forgiveness broke our chains. His sacrifice released us from the slavery of sin. Now, we’re invited us to carry that kind of forgiveness to the people who have hurt us.