Daily Devotion for June 26, 2020

SCRIPTURE: Luke 17:1-4

Some Sayings of Jesus

17 Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 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. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 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.”

 

REFLECTION:

In focusing on verses three and four of this section of the text, Trent C. Butler shares the following: “Be careful. Watch out, Jesus declared. Exercise your responsibility to these ‘little ones’ in society. Protect them. This involves more than refraining from tempting them to sin. It also means confronting them when they do sin in an attempt to bring them to repentance and God’s forgiveness (cf. 1 John 5:16). If the little brother does repent, then you have an added responsibility. You must forgive just as God forgives, for this is the essence of your prayer life (11:4). Do not keep score. You may have to forgive beyond your tolerance level. Just think how much God has to forgive you for. Even if the brother sins against you a ridiculous number of times in one day, forgive him. Keep on forgiving. Do not stop to test the genuineness of the other person’s request. Just forgive. Thus, you help the other person to grow and do not tempt him to sin.”

 

There is a lot to unpack in these four verses for today, but one of the overarching themes is about forgiveness. Butler’s gets very direct when he shares his understanding that “You must forgive just as God forgives, for this is the essence of your prayer life (11:4). Do not keep score. You may have to forgive beyond your tolerance level. Just think how much God has to forgive you for. Even if the brother sins against you a ridiculous number of times in one day, forgive him. Keep on forgiving. Do not stop to test the genuineness of the other person’s request. Just forgive. Thus, you help the other person to grow and do not tempt him to sin.” WOW! That sounds like a tall order.

 

The one sentence that really sticks with me is “You may have to forgive beyond your tolerance level.” Forgiving someone for sinning against you can be challenging no matter what the sin is, but Jesus is calling us to “forgive beyond [our] tolerance level.” I think this can be where people’s understanding of what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not can really come into play. “Just forgive.” “Do not keep score.” It is natural for people to push back against some of this out of concern for their wellbeing that someone may try to take advantage of this continual forgiveness. But you can forgive someone while also not continuing to engage with them in unhealthy or harmful relationships.

 

RESPONSE:

What was the hardest thing you ever forgave someone for? What was something you have done that you were maybe surprised that someone forgave you for? What do you think about the idea of “[forgiving] beyond your tolerance level”?

 

PRAYER:

Forgiving and grace-filled God, you continue to forgive our sins and grant us mercy and grace. Help us to show that same kind of love to one another and not begrudgingly, but willfully willing to forgive others. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, soften our hardened hearts, open our eyes to the world that is beyond how simple we try to make it, and lead us to repentance for our sins against you and others. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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