We discuss Christ’s teaching on sin, repentance, and forgiveness. He admonishes us to refrain from causing others to sin and to forgive people that sin against us. He talked about sin in terms of things a person may do against other persons, thereby defining principles applicable to dispute resolution.
The teaching focused on individual responsibilities in avoiding sin, seeking forgiveness of a sin committed against another person, and accepting repentance and forgiving a person that has sinned against them [Luke 17:1–4]. The responsibilities include rebuking a person for committing sin against another person and forgiving them if they repent, irrespective of the frequency of occurrence. In this study, we discuss the meaning of causing others to sin (being a channel for temptation to others), rebuking a person that sins against another, seeking forgiveness, and forgiving others. Christ emphasized repentance as necessary for forgiveness. We recall a previous study on the life of Joseph (eleventh son of Jacob) that illustrates the benefits of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
David’s interactions with Abigail [1 Samuel 25:1–44] illustrate several principles applicable to present-day human relationships.
David Reacts to Nabal’s Contempt
David was angry with Nabal (Abigail’s husband) for rejecting with contempt his (David’s) request for food. David and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and flock in the field. So, David sent a few people to request food from Nabal during a sheep-shearing festival. Nabal not only refused but insulted David in the process. David set out with his men, intending to destroy Nabal and his belongings in a quest for revenge.
After David left Saul’s service, Saul went after him to hunt him down and kill him, because he saw David as a threat to continuation of his kingdom. David, with a team of about 400 men, moved frequently to evade Saul. Twice he had good opportunity to kill Saul but did not kill him because of his great respect for Saul as God’s anointed king of Israel.
Would you choose vengeance or forgiveness? Joseph’s brothers met with him in Egypt approximately 20 years after they sold him to slavery. As administrative head of Egypt, Joseph was in charge of abundant grain reserves that Egypt accumulated under his management during a seven-year period of abundance. He now presided over grain sales to people that came to Egypt from different parts of the world to buy supplies during a severe world-wide famine.