And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, I repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:4, NASB95)
1) Christian Forgiveness - Take note that the Bible says that "Öif he repents forgive himĒ. Now there are three major reasons why Christians have such a hard time forgiving. One is, "I would be glad to forgive him if he was sincere, but I donít believe he is: Iíll wait and see if he proves it. If he proves himself to be genuine, then Iíll forgive him.Ē
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I'll Forgive When He Proves
That is not an acceptable excuse for refusing forgiveness. Christ already anticipated your objections to His command. And to make matters worse, this is the way He answered it, "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,í forgive himĒ (Luke 17:4, NASB95).
2) Christian Forgiveness - What is Christ saying here? You may not wait to see if he or she is sincere or not. That is not your job. That is between God and that person. Your job is simply to forgive whether you think he or she is sincere or not. In fact, by the time he or she has come back to you four or five times in one day asking for forgiveness, no doubt your suspicions that that person is not sincere will be thoroughly confirmed. But you must forgive every time.
What is going on here? God sees something you have missed. God knows that change is hard, even when a person is totally sincere. Because change is hard, it will not occur in a day or two or even a week or two. Thatís why God requires you to be patient with repentant brothers. They may be very sincere, but they are also very habituated to patterns of sin. For that reason, change will take place over time, not over night. One thing a struggling Christian brother or sister needs at such times is patience, not
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judgmentalism. Which is not to say that you do not make righteous judgments, you do. If a person comes back to you five times in one day asking for forgiveness, that person needs more than blanket forgiveness, he or she needs help in overcoming this sin as well.
3) Christian Forgiveness - Tommy came to counseling with his wife, Candy. Candy had been a difficult wife. She nagged her husband, and often disrupted their home with outbursts of anger. They had lived this way for over 20 years. Finally, Tommy decided he had enough; he moved out. This scared Candy; she came to counseling crying, saying she wanted her husband back. She insisted she knew she had been a major problem in the marriage, but now she had come to see the light. She wanted to change; she would change if only Tommy would move home. Candy was asked to call Tommy and bring him to counseling, and he did come with his wife for the next session.
Tommy was well aware of Candyís repentance and her desire for a new start.
"No,Ē he said, "I am not ready to return. I am not at all sure she is sincere about this. Iíve seen things like this before. No, Iíve come today to help my wife with her problems, but I have no desire to move back home, yet. Letís see if she perseveres for six months on this thing. If so, then, maybe Iíll reconsider.Ē
He never did forgive her, and they never did get their marriage together again. Why? Because God says forgive today, but Tommy was on the six-month plan. Six months later, he had no interest in her at all.