**And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. ** Luke 17:4
In yesterday’s post, we started a discussion on forgiveness. We are all familiar with the passage in Matthew 18 when Jesus tells us to forgive **seventy times seven**. A measure that takes our duty to a much higher level.
But we said that today we would talk about a key word from Luke 17. I imagine you have guessed it by now.
The key word is…..REPENT
Jesus tells his disciples in these two passages from the gospels that we should forgive a brother or sister as many times as it takes, IF THEY SHOW THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO CHANGE.
I do not believe that we are required to forgive someone if they cannot see that what they have done was wrong or at least that it was hurtful to us. They should be showing some measure of desiring to not offend again. If they have an anger issue they should be doing something about their anger. If they have a purity issue they could find someone to hold them accountable.
Repentance is not an exact science but it should reflect change and new perspective.
Someone who repents and invites the Lord Jesus Christ into their life is saying that they want things to be different, that THEY want to be different. They want to choose a different path to walk on. They want new priorities.
They are saying that they are ready to make some changes. They are the ones that forgiveness is reserved for.
So, if someone comes up against us and offends us in one way or another, our response should be forgiveness….to give them another chance or a chance to make things right. We can chalk it up to them having a bad day. If it happens again, we can take a step back but give them yet another chance. But if the behavior continues and we have made it clear that we are offended or hurt by it and they make NO EFFORT to change or apologize or recognize that we have been hurt, I don’t believe that we have to let them continue to be in our day to day life. It is okay to put a little distance between us and them and give them some time to grow up. We can put some space between us and them so that God has some time to work in their hearts and make some necessary changes. In time, we can be open to renew the relationship when we can see that they are making some effort to move forward with us.
In the meantime, we can focus on prayer for them and focus our attention on those who are truly looking for improvement and growth.
I understand that we are all in different stages of growth and maturing, but if when we spend time with people that consistently refuse to see their need for repentance and their hurtful behaviour is overt and damaging to us, leaving us feeling wounded and discouraged, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by maintaining that friendship.
In reality, we may be hindering the Lord’s work in them by enabling them in their behaviour.
In any relationship, there should be mutual respect. When someone refuses to accept their responsibility in the relationship, it is better to walk away.