The Great Freedom in Forgiveness
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
In the Bible, God instructs Christian people to grow in faithfulness to Him and the serve one another in love. Part of this Christian conduct is to forgive those who sin against you. We ought to forgive each other as Christ has forgiven us. If God can forgive, then there is no just reason why we cannot do likewise. If a brother or sister in Christ sins against you make them aware of that and seek for a way forward. A lack of forgiveness will lead to a hardened and bitter heart, which is very dangerous to the Christian both physically and spiritually.
Notice in our verse the word “rebuke”. This does not mean we need to point out every sin in others. Rather the meaning here is to bring a person’s sin to their attention with the purpose of restoring harmony and fellowship among believers. The sinning Christian ought to receive loving rebuke. When rebuking a fellow believer check that your attitude and motive are correct. Are you concerned about them? Do you truly love them? Here are some more questions to consider about this topic.
1. Do you respond with forgiveness and love when someone hurts you?
2. Do you make a point of doing good to those who have wronged you?
3. Are you keeping in memory a record of wrongs?
4. Do you have a hard heart towards people who have sinned against you?
5. Have you determined to love family and friends?
Remember our text at the top of the page. Christ said when people sin against you, forgive the repenting believer. The word repent in this context means if they display sorrow and a desire to continue in Christian fellowship. This is the biblical way of forgiveness. If the person does not repent, we are not commanded to continue in fellowship with them. We must learn to let the situation go if unresolved. We must not hold ill feelings towards those who have wronged us. This is not easy, but it is part of our Christian growth and maturity.