3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3–4 (NAS)
This admonition puts me squarely out of my comfort zone. I am very capable of spotting the sins of others, but not at rebuking these sins. It is more likely for me to complain about the sinning to a third party than to directly confront the sinner. And there’s always the hesitancy and fear of confrontation, then perhaps more so the feeling that who am I to talk, sinner that I am?
But this passage seems to concern the one-on-one sin that must be directly dealt with particularly among Christians for repentance and restoration to occur. Such activity is vital in the Body of Christ. If done correctly, regularly, and with reciprocity, it allows love to reign supreme. If it’s absent strife ensues (Euodia vs. Syntyche, Philippians 4:2).
If this process does take place, the purpose should not be to exact a pound of flesh, but to forgive and forget. Jesus spots these specific dangers upfront though: repeat offenses and the failure to release the sinner from bondage. As the Lord does with us, time and time again he forgives and forgets. Ad infinitum. We should be prepared and willing to do the same.
One other thing. If this process follows initial petty misunderstandings, it’s easy. When allowed to fester, things can get ugly. Best to nip it in the bud.