Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’ you shall forgive him.”

Often people will quote the first set of passages and thus conclude that forgiveness must be extended in a “blank check” fashion. The Lord is stating that you must forgive sin or trespass from others if you expect God to do the same for you. Question: Does God forgive you without you repenting and asking for forgiveness? No, He doesn’t! {Another question: Were the ones who were instrumental in killing Jesus automatically forgiven, when He said: “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)? Or did not Peter have to tell them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:38).}

The second passage from Luke, tells us how forgiveness is obtained. There must be a cessation of the sin and a request for forgiveness; it’s the same with God. Now, we do have the responsibility of trying to facilitate an opportunity for this to happen. Matthew 18:15 tells us we must go to our brother if he has sinned against us. Galatians 6:1-2 tells us, if we are spiritual, to restore a brother gently if he has sinned. We should, as God is, always be willing and ready to forgive. The problem is that some folks aren’t worried about forgiveness and/or don’t seek it. They don’t want to stop the sins they are involved in and aren’t too concerned about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a precious commodity in that Jesus Christ died so that we all might have it. All won’t have it because they are not willing to accept the terms Jesus put on it. Hebrews 5:9 tells us He is the “Author of eternal salvation.” He has the right to put the terms on the receiving of forgiveness.

That does put a duty upon those who have been sinned against. You want to forgive, and often you will have to make it happen by going to that person. If the person comes to you first, wonderful! If not, we are to go to them. If they won’t respond, your hands are clean. Also, we never “write” that person off. It may be in the future that they have a change of heart. This is how God feels about us. Acts 17:30 tells us that God wants all men to repent. Why? So He can forgive them! I hope you will think about this subject. — Christ Moore, Clarendon church of Christ, Clarendon, TX

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