Dealing With Others’ Sin

by Benjamin Burks on July 30, 2011 · 0 comments

Luke 17:1-4, “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”

Often in helping people get to the root of their problems, they will find roots of bitterness. People will always be people. People are imperfect. People hurt others. They use the hurt they have experienced to hurt others. The Bible clearly tells us to have a supply, reservoir,stockpile,or surplus of forgiveness prepared for them. Our text says when someone does you wrong, you are to rebuke them, and if they repent, you are to forgive them. It also indicates that when someone seeks forgiveness, we shall forgive them, because we already have it stored up.

Recently, I was trying to help a friend who was trespassed against. So often, the path of least resistance is chosen, and this is one of those cases. It was easier for the individual to cover his feelings than to follow the admonition of the Bible. I want you to think with me about rebuke, forgiveness, and rebuking again today.

If a brother trespass against thee, rebuke him. Don’t talk about them; talk to them. Don’t gossip; confront. You can talk to God. “God, please open their heart. Open my heart. Give me the words to say. Give them the ears to hear.” You can talk to God about it. It may be okay to seek wise counsel from one person. A good question might even be, “How do you think I should do this in a way that is holy and helpful?” Do not use the electronic media (email, text, voicemail) as a way to confront them; it is a cowardly way to deal with heart issues. Confront them. Look them eyeball to eyeball, have a blend of mercy and truth, and obey the Scriptures concerning offence and trespass.

I believe this starts early in the child rearing process with parents as our kids are learning to respond correctly to trespass and offence. So many times the parent will rebuke others in authority when a child, in their opinion, was mistreated. Be very careful as parents to stay together with authority! I grew up in the days that when I did something wrong at school, I got in trouble at home. My parents never marched me to the school and defended me to others in my chain of authority. They worked together with my other authority, pulling on the same rope to help me. There were times that they coached me to go to someone in authority that had offended me or trespassed, and I went with the right spirit. Every time the misperception was cleared up, and we continued forward in the work of the Lord. I am sure in my 46 years I have offended some and I am very sorry for each and every offence and trespass. I am thankful for the forgiveness offered. I have seen what happens to people who live with guilt and blame. God will balance all of that mess out if you will follow this simple plan.

Some of you have been sinned against for years, some of you have just overlooked and ignored it, and some of you have let it go, “because you love peace and comfort more than you love God and that person”. Some of you really need to just sit down and say, “We’re going to have to talk about this.” Some of you have been bullied for years. And this person doesn’t even know they’re a bully. They just think that that’s how the relationship works. And you know you’re being pushed around. You need to rebuke them. The Holy Spirit is going to tell you when this is proper, and to whom He desires to use you to minister to. Remember this is speaking of brothers and sisters in Christ.

Secondly, when you’re dealing with someone else’s sin, do have forgiveness prepared for them when they are wanting to receive it. Jesus uses that language. Several years ago, I discussed this issue of forgiveness with Dr. David Gibbs. He said forgiveness was a legal term. It means to release. A person who could not pay a debt can be forgiven in full. It also meant that person who forgave would not have any right to talk to that person about the offense or debt ever again. They were forgiven. It also meant they would not talk to others about it, because they had released the person. They had forgiven them. It also meant that they would not meditate on it themselves ever again – the person was released of all damages and responsibility.

Thank God that we are forgiven of our sin debt because of the forgiveness offered to us. We can forgive or we can become bitter. Those are the only options for those who are victims, having been sinned against. You forgive and leave it to the Lord, or you hold on to it and become bitter. If you do, you let them own you, control you, and manipulate you every day for the rest of your life. And some of you will say, “I am bitter, but I have a good reason, here’s what they did.” And I would say, “You may have a good reason. Perhaps what they did was horrible, but you are the one that is causing more damage to yourself than the offense they did to you.”

Thirdly, keep rebuking and forgiving. You ever read Proverbs? One could say that Proverbs could be much shorter, right? But Proverbs is long because sometimes it says the same things over and over. Why? Because that’s how God teaches us. We are His children, and just as we repeat instructions to our kids, He repeats instructions to you and me. Proverbs is God saying, “Here we go again. Let’s get it right this time.”

I have a good friend, Carl, who is an Extreme Fighter. He is undefeated at the current time. I watched his last fight on the internet recently and saw his opponent tap out. At what point in the fight do you tap out? “I’m not forgiving you anymore. I’m done with you. I tapped out in round three, round four, round five.” Seven times you get sinned against by the same person, in the same way, on the same day. That’s a lot. Jesus says, “Rebuke, forgive. Rebuke, forgive.” If it takes seven times a day, and seven is in the Bible the number of perfection, so He’s kind of just saying here, “Whatever it takes.”

Questions to ask…today
Holy Spirit, is there someone that I need to forgive?
Holy Spirit, is there someone I need to rebuke in love today?
Holy Spirit, is there someone that should rebuke me today; and if so, will you give me the opportunity to right my wrongs today?

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