Two weeks ago, my Gospels classes took a test which included this memory verse from Luke 17:3-4.
So watch yourselves.“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.”
After the memory verse came listings/True-False/short answers, a typical exam. The test concluded with an essay on the memory verse. The directions read:
Discussion: In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus commanded us to forgive our brother/sister seven times in a day. What is your interpretation of that verse and do you think it is reasonable to expect?
Here are some of the answers from my students, all juniors. They are used with permission.
My interpretation of the verse is relentless forgiveness. Jesus uses this example to convey that no matter how many times someone does us harm, we must continually forgive them. Jesus did not mean literally seven times; I believe the number seven was used simply as an example and because it was a holy number. The forgiveness aspect is slightly unreasonable but it conveys how God forgives us even though we don't deserve it. I believe the statement of Jesus was intended to be irrational.
Forgiving your brother seven times a day is only hyperbole Jesus was using to demonstrate that forgiveness should be immeasurable. No man should hold forgiveness from someone because Jesus gives forgiveness every day. That is what makes our religion so special- our sins do not determine God's love for us or if we reincarnate to a roach. Instead, God continues to pour down His love and mercy. Honestly, we (Christians) are so undeserving of God's constant forgiveness but it is through His love we are redeemed. Forgiveness comes from love and more love and compassion should be given to undeserving people. The seven times is not an actual limit on forgiveness but a reminder.
This teaching, forgive your brother seven times, is not literal but metaphorical. What Jesus is trying to say is that no matter how many times someone sins against you, don't hold a grudge if they ask for your forgiveness. He says even if it is multiple times in a day, we must show patience and compassion and forgive. Even though forgiving someone for something they have done before is hard, if we want to achieve life with God, we must be merciful. While Jesus says we must forgive seven times, He means it figuratively and while it is a hard task, it is reasonable for Him to ask all of us to be forgiving.
I agree with these verses because withholding forgiveness is really unhealthy. I cannot tell you how many people have hurt me before. But you have to forgive them, because if you don't, you only are hurting yourself. I see a lot pf people my age who are not quick to forgive and they are very bitter. When I was younger, I was really quick to forgive because I valued my friendships so much, I always felt that no disagreement was worth losing your friend over. But it always bothered me how others were so reluctant to forgive me. It made me think something was wrong with me. I started holding more grudges and I became more angry to try and become more like everyone else. Now, I see I was wrong. Whenever someone hurts me now, I try to remember what it was like to be a kid and forgive people the way I did.
My interpretation of Luke 17:3-4 is that Jesus is saying you have to forive every time someone does something wrong. Just like forgiving us everytime we make a mistake.Think about how Jesus took our sins away; not just seven but ALL! So if they come back later, you must forgive them or else you will be eaten up by anger. It's a two sided argument. I saw an episode of Veggietales seven years ago. I remember it because it was about forgiving every time no matter how many times. And if you don't forgive, you are consumed by hatred for what they did or worse. So, if you forgive, you relieve yourself AND your brother or sister in Christ. That is why Jesus says, "You MUST forgive him or her!"
Applicable quote of the day:
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
E-mail me at steve@hawleybookscom