Sunday, February 14, 2016

Forgiving But Judging

Forgiving But Judging
February 15, 2016
Luke 17:4  "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."

The Bible says we are to forgive one another.  This is no shock; you've certainly heard this a thousand times.  But how do you forgive someone who doesn't ask forgiveness, or even knows he needs to be forgiven?  Is it your job to point out how he offended you?  You are certainly allowed to tell your brother how he has wronged you, but only after you've made it up in your heart to forgive him.  Your forgiveness to him should not depend on him owning up to his mistakes.  Maybe he agrees that he offended you, maybe he does not agree.  If he is truly your brother he would realize the offense and ask forgiveness; no one intentionally wants to hurt his brother.  What if he seeks forgiveness and does the same thing again and again?  Here is where the Bible tells us that forgiveness is an ongoing requirement, even if it takes seventy times seven times in one day.

Hold on.  You mean that someone could actually commit 490 offenses against you in one day?  I think the Bible might be suggesting a hyperbole here, but the point is very clear that forgiveness is required as often as necessary.  Examine that for a minute.  What if someone sins against you once in a day and then asks forgiveness?  Then you forgive.  He commits the offense an hour later and seeks forgiveness a second time.  You forgive.  He commits the offense another hour later and requests forgiveness.....really?  Three times today and he is not figuring it out?  At about the third time; I am maxed out.  This guy is a jerk.  But you go ahead and forgive him.  Then an hour later, he fouls again and says he's sorry.  Do you forgive him?  We are required to forgive, but something goes off in your brain.  You judge the sincerity of his apology.  Statistically speaking, he is going to commit the offense in another hour.  He's not really sorry.  If he was sorry then he would change.  Forgiveness is easy if the offender is repentant, as in not going to offend any longer.  This guy  doesn't deserve forgiveness because this guy is just a loser.  You've now become his judge and desire to remove the clemency factor.

At what point does the Bible allow you to judge his heart, absolving you of the need to forgive the jerk?  That point does not exist.  You are required to forgive him without judging the sincerity of his heart, without judging him at all, even if he is not deserving of forgiveness, even if his penitence feels like a lie.  But why?  Why does the Lord require this of us?  This is not fair; this isn't even right.  The Lord should have instituted a three strike rule.  He didn't do that, though, not because the other guy deserves forgiveness but because you need forgiveness.  You forget how many times you've offended your friend, brother, mother, spouse, etc.  You forget how many times you've offended the Lord, needing forgiveness from Him for the same offense, for the thirty eighth time today.  The Lord is teaching you to be like Himself.  The Lord is showing you how He has to do the same thing with you.  The Lord is giving you a reflection of your own actions, your own heart, only you want to judge the other guy.  When was the last time you judged your own sincerity?  If you really were repentant; you'd not need forgiveness so many times in one day.  Right?

If you are holding on to unforgiveness, you have become a judge.  You are not allowed to say if a person is deserving of forgiveness; the Lord will deal with that.  You are supposed to forgive because it is in your own best interests, not because someone else actually deserves it.  You are thankful for that forgiveness for the sixty third time today; it's keeping you from going to Hell.  Do the same for someone else, lest the Lord decide not to forgive you someday.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 6:14, Matt 7:1-3, Eph 4:32, Col 3:13

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