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IEA Devo 2021 forgivingrebuking • Becoming a Disciple-Maker

Forgiving and Rebuking – The Disciple-Making Lifestyle

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…”
(Luke 17:3)


Part One

Jesus said, “If someone sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) Forgiveness is at the very core of our Christian faith. However, the uncommon virtue of rebuking is little known or understood. It is therefore an often-neglected ministry. Be thoughtful while reading today’s verses because rebuking and forgiving are closely interwoven with repentance!
The spiritual disciplines being studied are only beneficial when they are exercised under the Holy Spirit’s control. Describing that level of spiritual maturity, the Bible says, “… he who is spiritual judges all things…” (1 Corinthians 2:15a) Bear in mind that you and I may be next in line to deserve – a redemptive rebuke or to need someone’s gracious forgiveness.
The only Biblical reason for encouraging fellow believers to squarely face their sin – is to humbly assist them in reaching their spiritual potential. This is why either receiving or giving spiritual correction that is guided by the Holy Spirit will be one of life’s most valuable experiences. The Bible explains, “The Lord disciplines those He loves…” (Hebrews 12:6).


Part Two

Both King David and Nathan, God’s prophet, were blessed through their personal obedience (see 2 Samuel 12:1-15). Spiritual forgiveness always anticipates an act of genuine repentance. For that reason, on special occasions, a well worded rebuke will be the kindest possible evidence of a fellow believer’s love. Nathan’s inspired rebuke of David was a wake-up call which made all the difference in his years of future ministry!

As a precaution against an unforgiving spirit, it is wise to immediately begin praying when a sin is committed against you or someone you love. This is important because you may find it beyond your natural ability to accept an offender’s sincere apology or repentance. This is especially true when the exact same offence has repeatedly been committed. Remember how the Lord taught us to pray – “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). We may need God’s forgiveness “seven times” or many additional times for the exact same sin (see Luke 17:4), so remember that when forgiving others.

It is life’s ultimate privilege to be conformed to the Lord’s image. That’s why Christian forgiveness must be experienced as we become more like Him. We are enabled to experience this process through the miracle of His transforming power. Forgiveness, holiness, and love are the very essence of who God truly – is. That’s why His wonderful attributes portray the mature Christian witnesses that He wants us to – become!


Part Three

God’s forgiveness and spiritual correction (see John 8:11) reflect the sinless purity which His Son openly modeled. Pause to quietly think. Who best understands your personal strengths and weaknesses? Is it not God? How often do you find yourself approaching Him about the exact same reoccurring sin? Do you experience jumping into the same “mud puddle” – time after time? Does that even happen just after you have been cleansed?
“Yes” – God hears our confessions, but that is not repentance! He knows all about our secret sins and addictions. The question is, are we content to continue living in spiritual mediocrity? This is precisely why God lovingly and patiently offers to forgive and – cleanse us. Repentance that is honestly interwoven with our confession is essential. These two combined decisions produce the needed change of direction that creates lasting spiritual maturity!
No unconfessed sin will ever be overlooked; however, on the cross the Lord Jesus fully paid for every sin that has ever enslaved us! The Bible promises,
 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)


Part Four

God lovingly rebukes, corrects, and repeatedly forgives because that’s His holy nature (see 1 John 4:7a). But, as previously explained, He also “…disciplines those He loves…” (Hebrews 12:6) Since He created everyone – He also loves everyone, therefore His discipline is an indispensable element of His grace. No disciple is ever exempt from His refining purpose!
If our fellow believers choose to bring shame on the Lord’s name – then they both need and deserve to be spiritually corrected. For that reason, Paul was once led to strongly rebuke Peter (see Galatians 2:11-21). Understanding this, then out of cowardice – when we fail to obey by spiritually correcting a brother or sister in Christ, are we not still unusable? Ironically, our failure to reprimand is spiritually as immature as failing to “…turn the other [cheek]…” (Matthew 5:39) The Lord made this very clear in Luke 17:3, when He specifically instructed His disciples to rebuke as well as to forgive!
Let’s review – it requires humility and mature spiritual obedience to responsibly and lovingly rebuke a Christian brother or sister for their – sin. Equally, it requires patience, love, and strength for us – to forgive! These two important Biblical disciplines will always be required for effective ministry as a Christian disciple-maker.


By Billie Hanks Jr.

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