“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 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.”
A warning is given to the believer to “take heed to yourselves…” Why would God give such a warning? God gives this warning because He knows that we often become a judge of people who have trespassed against us instead of being the forgiver as God commands us to do.
God knows that you are going to be wronged by others. People are going to cross lines with you that they should have never crossed, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t forgive them. The fact that God wants us to continue forgiving a person no matter how many times they have wronged us shows the attitude God wants you to have. Let me share several observations about when God wants you to forgive.
First, forgiveness is not to be determined by the degree of the trespass. People say, “They hurt me deeply, and I just can’t find it within myself to forgive.” My friend, God didn’t say to forgive the other person as long as they didn’t hurt you deeply; rather, He commands you to forgive no matter how serious the person trespassed against you.
Second, forgiveness is not to be determined by how many times a person has trespassed against you. In fact, the opposite is true. You are to continue to forgive a person even if they continue to wrong you. Just because a person continually does the same thing against you doesn’t give you a right not to forgive them.
Third, forgiveness is not to be determined by the sincerity of the one who repents. God never said that you are to judge the sincerity of the person repenting. Judging someone’s sincerity is not your responsibility. Too many times believers won’t forgive because they say they don’t believe the person is being serious. My friend, you are not God, and you will never know if the person is serious about getting right.
Fourth, forgiveness is the responsibility of the one who was trespassed against. Your responsibility is to forgive the person who says they are repenting whether or not you believe their sincerity. God doesn’t hold you accountable for the sincerity of the one repenting, but He holds you accountable by whether you forgive the one who says they are repenting. Even IF the person repenting is not being sincere, it is still your job to forgive.
Fifth, the most dangerous time that determines what you become is between the time of being trespassed against and the time it takes to forgive. God says, “Take heed to yourselves…” because He knows that bitterness, anger, and the desire for revenge are at the door if you don’t forgive. Your choice as to whether or not you will forgive will determine whether you become a helper of the fallen or an angry, bitter person who always wants revenge.
Sixth, the fact that God commands you to forgive means that He has placed within you the ability to forgive no matter how badly someone has hurt you. You can forgive the person who has wronged you because God has given you the wherewithal to do it. Whether or not you forgive is your choice, but it will determine how much God can use you.