Our brains start with the wrong presumption. Forgiveness, not punishment, is the starting place for dealing with our neighbors.
Peter’s asking the question we’re all thinking.
Jesus is talking about restoration, healing, bringing people back together. Forgiving sin. He offers his followers a process, right? [We heard about that last week.] And the point seemed pretty clear.
If someone in the church sins against someone else, try to bring them back in.
That’s when Peter asks it:
“Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?”
I can imagine Peter saying I get the twenty-thousand foot view—what we’re supposed to do in the abstract—if somebody sins, I forgive. Sure. Got that. And if they sin again, I get that I’m to do that forgiving again. But…we can’t really keep that up forever, can we?
I know that’s exactly what we’re thinking. Because I hear variations of this all of the time. It’s why we talk about “teaching a man to fish” or how we “can’t help them for the rest of their lives.”
There has to be a line for us because clearly there’s a line for others.
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