3 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” 5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:3–5, NKJV)
Having just warned His disciples about being an offense that undermines another’s faith, Jesus immediately applies His warning to how we treat a brother who sins against us. It takes faith to apply what Jesus taught, and His apostles supplicate Him to increase their faith. When sinned against, we must go directly to the person and warn them their sin, and call them to repent. If they will, it is our obligation to forgive and renew the relation strained by the sin. More than that, we must have faith to repeatedly forgive, fully and freely, when the one who sins against us comes to us with repentance on his lips and in his heart. Faith to do so is increased by remembering this is exactly how God in Christ forgives us. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). God forgives us repeatedly and completely when we repent, confessing our sins to Him (1 Jno. 1:9). He does so without hesitation, without reprisal, without animosity. If we will not do the same, we become the very offense (snare) to that person’s faith which Jesus warned against here (Lk. 17:1-3). Truly, great faith is needed to forgive others as God forgives us. Be like God. Forgive others, because He has forgiven you.