There is a dual message here. I am not to lead astray the little ones in the Way of discipleship. I am to correct those who are missing God’s goal (aka sin) and I am to forgive them when they apologize. This is a very powerful message for all of us. I must take it to heart.
He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” | ~Jesus | Luke 17:2-4 (The Message Bible)
Suppose another believer sins against you. Jesus anticipated this question and instructed us what to do. First, we must have a personal concern for each other and obey His warning, “Take heed to yourselves.” This means that we should lovingly watch over each other and do all we can to keep one another from sinning.
If a brother or sister does sin against us, we should give a private loving rebuke. Our tendency might be to feel hurt down inside, nurse a grudge, and then tell others what happened to us, but this is the wrong approach. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) is the first step toward solving personal differences.
Our aim is not to embarrass or hurt the offender, but to encourage him or her to repent. If the offender does repent, then we must forgive.
In fact, we must be in the habit of forgiving, for others might sin against us seven times a day — or even seventy times seven! No one is likely to commit that much sin in one day, but this use of hyperbole emphasized the point Jesus was making: do not enumerate the sins of others, for love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:4–6).
We should always be ready to forgive others, for one day we may want them to forgive us!
To confirm this passage is not just a “one off”, Jesus also elaborated on this in Matthew 18: “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the church. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you.”