This is going to be one of those very open articles, and I will seem to be praising of my virtue, so I want to begin by saying that I do this for the sake of others who struggle with the idea of forgiveness. I know that any virtue I have and any sound judgment I have is of the Lord. I also know that we can be blind, so I also post this in hopes that should I be blind in my judgment, a brother will love me enough to say so.
Does everyone get forgiveness?
As a Christian, we should forgive because Jesus first forgave us. We should show mercy because we know that His mercy extends to the merciful.
As a Christian, we should keep love in our hearts, because this is the great commandment of our Lord. I also know that loving as we should can be hard, and this task requires us to seek the Holy Spirit so that we can judge hard things and on a case-by-case basis.
First, what is forgiveness?
To forgive means that we give someone a pass on something they did wrong. We say that they are free from the consequences of what they have done.
In order for a person to receive forgiveness, they must admit to their fault and with sincerity. They must seek to make things right and make and honest attempt to stop the behavior.
However, they might sincerely struggle with this behavior, so if they repent over and over, we should forgive them in most instances because we know that Jesus has done that with some of our sinful struggles. As Jesus said, forgive 7 times 70 times.
If a person does not admit their fault, or admits it for a time and then later retracts without returning to self-accountability, do you forgive them?
If a person blame-shifts and proceeds to tear innocent people down, do you forgive them?
If a person creates conflict between other people as a means to distract from their wrongdoing and pass the blame onto the person they harmed, do you forgive them?
If a person is merciless towards others, but expects to be forgiven of everything they do—even the things they do not admit to but instead project onto others then create conflict between people as a way to cover their tracks and false persona of victimhood, do you forgive them?
I don’t think so.
What if they say they are a Christian?
What if a person does all of the above to you, then they attempt to drag someone else into the mess and this person defends you. They then turn on this person in the exact same fashion that they turned on you when you tried to hold them accountable.
Now you have two who have witnessed the same thing.
Do you forgive your brother?
According to Paul the Apostle, you tell it to the church. Maybe they repent if they are forced to face themselves. If not, then not.
Then, you leave it to God because He is the judge. He can pardon, and we never forget this. Especially for a Christian. However, we know the teachings of Jesus and we know that it seems as though people like this will not receive a positive judgment from the Lord.
I do not want to see anyone hear from Jesus, “depart from me. I never knew you.”
If I think that a person’s grievance is so bad that they might face this judgment—and if I love this person—I will do whatever I can to attempt to prick their conscience. For some, you walk away. For some, if they continue to slander and try to harm you, you speak the truth. You expose them. Maybe if the Holy Spirit gives you the right words, they will repent. If not, they will die. It is a sad reality. *(Please See Note Below Regarding This Statement)*
This is my judgment regarding forgiveness.
However, I love that our Lord deals with people as individuals—and I see that in myself, even in this. There are people who have done these same things to me who I have forgiven, and they never admitted to it verbally. Their actions showed it over time, and I felt in my heart that they are sorry.
These deal with deep shame issues, and so I don’t want to harm them by making them confess to me. There is a silent understanding, and that is okay.
I don’t hold people accountable for every wrong they do to me. I do hold myself to a higher standard. I try to apologize for everything, and sometimes even to annoying level, or so I’m told.
There can be subtle room for mercy in all situations, and we should always look for that with help from the Holy Spirit with the goal of doing what is really best for the person and not ourselves.
I also try to judge people based on my personal experience with them, and not the words of others. Though, sometimes a trusted source should be considered heavily, and should only be paired with my own real-life experience of the person. Is it selfishness and pride to judge others for what they do to me?
I don’t think so, because this is the only experience I know to be true. People lie and gossip, so I can only go by what I know for sure when it comes to such a serious thing as forgiveness and unforgiveness. I also know that if a person will do such things to me, they probably do the same thing to others—and when it reaches the point of unforgiveness, they have done the same to at least one other person.
I have forgiven some of the most grievous wrongs against myself and others—and even some that were not openly repented of because I felt convicted to by the Holy Spirit. I felt that the Lord knew, and He was dealing with them.
In some very rare cases, there is no forgiveness—and these are rare cases indeed for me, so I do feel that considering all of this, if I do not forgive someone, then it is the right thing to do. Yet, I always remain hopeful that the Lord will turn their hearts. I pray that He does. I hope the best for them and I never want someone to face Jesus’s wrath. I think this is right.
What do I mean when I say, “Maybe if the Holy Spirit gives you the right words, they will repent. If not, they will die. It is a sad reality.”
Please do not take this in a literal sense as an excuse to harm someone. I do not advocate violence. I sometimes say things that are provocative because we are dealing with a serious matter, but then I realize how my words can be misused. If we find ourselves in a place in which we find no mercy, then we are dead in our sins.
How can we find freedom and life if we think that we are alive already, but dead? That is what I mean.
It can also be taken in this sense: If a person so grievously sins against us, they can become dead to us metaphorically unless they hear the voice of Jesus and come out of their grave, repent, and rise through proper reverence for the gospel.
We never forget this: The time comes that whosoever will kill you will think they do God’s service, and this they will do because they have not known the Father nor me,” says the Lord, Jesus.
I believe there will come a time in which many claim to be Christians but kill others–and they could do so thinking that they are saving their soul. They might justify themselves with scripture, thinking that they must destroy the flesh so that the spirit can be saved. This is speculation on my part, so take it as such.
If someone must be destroyed so that they can be saved, that is for God to handle because vengeance is His. If and when He does so, He will send and enemy to perform this work–an enemy who God will later destroy. We do not take this upon ourselves. We speak the truth, and if they do not hear, then they are dead.
Of course, this is in the context of dealing with serious issues of damaging sin that harms others without any accountability, and all things are judged on a case by case bases, and we seek the Spirit to help us know what is right.
Mercy is always best. Sometimes, in very rare cases, it is mercy to allow a person to face the consequences for what they have done, because forgiveness only enables them and leaves them trapped in their sin and in death.
There are multi layers of forgiveness. You can forgive in one sense, not letting resentment take hold. You can continue to hold hope for the person to heal and change, and we should hope that all will face a desirable judgment of God. Yet, we do not forgive them in the sense that they should be held accountable rather than free from the consequents of their actions. I hope that makes sense. Feel free to comment as always.