We are good at judging and not good at grace. At the same time, Jesus teaches us that we are to forgive and keep forgiving. Forgiveness doesn’t mean door mat, though, so you might need to separate/protect yourself from others. Just don’t withhold forgiveness…
3 “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Coming out of a time in which I have been focusing on reconciliation and relationships, Jesus’ words about forgiveness are very poignant. It’s a paradox that we are not prone to forgive even though we have been forgiven so much. We naturally identify with the wrath and vengeance of God even though we would do anything to not fall victim to God’s wrath and vengeance. Go figure.
Jesus has some words for the wicked generation in which we live. And make no mistake, every generation since Jesus walked the earth has been just as wicked. We judge and criticize, yet we do not often say, “She’s doing the best she can.” “Maybe I would do the same thing under the circumstances.” “He didn’t mean to offend me.” We don’t often give that super-valuable benefit of the doubt.
And so when Jesus speaks of our brother or sister sinning, whether it’s against us or against God, we are to rebuke, and if he repents, forgive. It’s interesting that Jesus ties forgiveness to repentance here. In the heavens, our forgiveness before God in eternity is also linked to our repentance. How so? Well, we are only able to access the forgiveness of God in Jesus when we turn from our sin to accept Jesus’ act of grace for us. The sincerity of our reliance on Jesus will be questioned and proven based on our commitment to our sin against him.
We can’t really turn toward Jesus if we do not turn away from our sin against him. And if we are not willing to turn from our sin when confronted about it, we likely are not sincere in our commitment to the Lord.
I would be remiss to not mention that we should be cautious in our rebukes. The modern Christian is often quick to rebuke anyone and everyone who disagrees with them or who does anything we don’t agree with. That’s why many in the world look down on Christians. We are good at judging and not good at grace. Not a good slogan for a movement which is entirely based on satisfying the wrath of God through Jesus’ death so that we can live in grace entirely. Rebuke should be kept within the church (1Corinthians 5:12).
And when it comes to forgiving another, Jesus teaches us to keep offering forgiveness. Even seven times a day to the same person. I know. I’d be ready to poke my eye out if the same person needed my forgiveness for the same thing seven times today. Welcome to God’s existence. You and I need that kind of forgiveness constantly.
Jesus wants us to reflect more of him in the world. Being endlessly forgiving. Show endless grace. But I’m tired of being hurt or taken advantage of. I get that. Forgiveness doesn’t mean door mat. You might need to separate yourself or protect yourself from others. That’s smart of shows self-care and self-protection. Use the brain God gave you at the same time as exercising the muscles of grace…