Today’s Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17; Jeremiah 31:34b; Hebrews 8:12
The word forgive literally means “forth-give”—to intentionally choose to dismiss from thought. (What does that do to the argument “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget”?) The Greek meaning is to send away the offense—to leave it alone, to not repeat it to anyone else, and not rehearse it to ourselves.
This is exactly what the Lord offers us—forgiveness without remembrance. An intentional act of forgiving and forgetting. God spoke through Jeremiah the prophet that He would forgive our wickedness and not remember our sins. This passage was so significant that the writer to the Hebrews quoted it in the New Testament.
Peter’s question about how many times he should forgive was inspired by Jesus’ instruction that dealing with offenses should be confined to as small a number as possible. He stated that first we should go to the offender one-on-one—just between the two of you. If the person doesn’t listen, then we are to take one or two others as witnesses. If he still doesn’t respond, we are to tell it to the church leaders and let them deal with the person. If he still doesn’t listen, he is to be treated as a “pagan or a tax collector.”
Before we get too excited about ostracizing our offenders, let’s remember how Jesus treated the much-despised tax collectors. He invited one (Matthew) to be His disciple. So, if a brother won’t respond to correction, let’s do our best to pray, love, and win him back into good graces with the Lord and the church. If anybody understood that, Matthew did.
- How can you include forgetting in your attempts to forgive? Which is more difficult—forgiving or forgetting? Why?
- How do you treat people after you’ve forgiven them?