Conditions on Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a tough deal. The biggest problems in life will, no doubt, consist of jerky things people did to you. We’ve been told that we are to “Forgive and forget.” But forgetting obnoxiously, jerky things is tough.

Jesus told people to forgive 70 x 7 times. Seems to me the idea is not just forgive each time a person does something to you, but perhaps also forgive every time you remember what they did to you.

Jesus has other things to say about forgiveness. Here’s a fascinating verse:

“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him;
and if he repent, forgive him.”

Jesus puts conditions on our forgiveness. The first step in forgiveness is to rebuke. Rather than fume about the jerkiness, confront the jerk. Tell him what he did was wrong. Forgiveness will be pretty tough if you are truly bugged by someone and never talk to them about it.

But the rebuke is not “Hey dummy, that was mean, what are ya stupid or something?” The purpose of the rebuke is to lead to repentance and forgiveness. It’s not supposed to be a return of offense.

The next condition is that the person repents after being rebuked. “IF he repent, forgive him.” IF he says he’s sorry, even if he does the same thing to you seven times a day and repents, forgive him.

If a kid slaps you in the head, “Hey, that hurt, don’t do that.” “Oh, sorry.” Half hour later kid hits you in the head again, “Hey, that hurt, don’t do that.” “Oh, sorry.” Half hour later kid hits you in the head again. “Hey, that hurt, don’t do that.” It gets old! Seems to me if a guy repented truly he wouldn’t keep doing it!

So, if a person does not repent, do you have to forgive him? Can you forgive someone you didn’t rebuke?

2 thoughts on “Conditions on Forgiveness”

  1. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

    Colossians 3:13 “…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

    In each case you’ll notice the little word as. We are to forgive as God forgives or in the same manner as He forgives. Thus we must first understand how God forgives if we are to rightly forgive.

    Forgiveness is a commitment to restore broken or disrupted relationship. It is a letting go of the anger or hurt that has been caused and is a commitment to restoration. It is a commitment to no longer hold an offense and its moral liability against a person. This can only happen when one person repents and the other extends forgiveness. The ultimate aim of forgiveness is to restore relationship, but a relationship can only be restored when both parties are willing. There cannot be communion when one party is willing and the other is not. To state that there has been full forgiveness in such a case is to make a mockery of the biblical concept of forgiveness. We can only offer forgiveness, as in the same way God offers forgiveness to us, God is not a universalist who chooses to forgive all men for their offense against Him. Nor does He offer forgiveness without expectation or condition. Rather, God forgives only those who turn to Him in repentance and who put their trust in Him.

    We agree that God’s offer of forgiveness is universal, in that He extends it to all of humanity. But the reality of forgiveness is only for those who accept the conditions of faith and repentance.

    Unforgiveness is something different, that is we are not willing to offer forgiveness because of bitterness, but only true forgiveness can be experienced when both parties understand that repentance is essential.

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