Luke 17:1-4 :
He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be careful. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in the day, and seven times returns, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
God has made it clear that we are not to take revenge on those who mislead us or others. If we are the government (which we are in the United States as the People of the United States) then as God’s government officials we do have a job to remove those who oppress others within our realm of responsibility according to the law, but as the government, we have the grave responsibility to not mislead! Ultimately, however, punishment will come from God who will not forget the evil of leading little ones astray.
It is clear that this sin of leading the little ones astray is a hated crime by God as Jesus so clearly expresses here. I believe that if anyone harms the little ones, a special kind of wrath is prepared for them. I am sure that I won’t want to witness that and I pray that by the blood of Jesus more of those who did abuse the small ones will become my brothers so that they may be forgiven and avoid this wrath. If they refuse God’s forgiveness, they will find a horrible end as the rich man did in the previous story.
As for me, however, I need to concentrate on forgiving my own brothers. Notice that part of the process is for me to “rebuke him.” I have to tell my brother when he did something against me. That is my responsibility. No matter what the world tells us today, it is the responsibility of believers to tell other believers (not necessarily non-believers) that they have wronged us. Then, my brother must “repent.” Notice that it does say that if my brother doesn’t repent, I don’t have to forgive him. That doesn’t mean, however that I withdraw my offer! It is healthy to hold out forgiveness for another who has wronged us, but it isn’t right to become a doormat for unrighteous acts of the un-repentant.
Forgiving someone over and over again, however, is not being a “doormat.” Jesus does expect us to continuously forgive the repentant even if they repeat their sins. Please understand that this does not mean that if you are in an abusive relationship that you should continue to allow yourself to be abused. You can forgive without living in the “line of fire.” Think about this carefully. Don’t you want people to forgive you of your repeated sins? I know I do. If someone is dangerous should they be wandering about? No, for their own good they need to be confined somehow until they can cope with the temptation. May God help us all to take His strength and stop repeating our sin. Thank God He can help us overcome!