“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
A few immediate thoughts I have when I read this:
-We are called to (lovingly) hold each other accountable. Do I have people in my life who are safe enough to call me out? Am I taking my responsibility of holding my friends accountable seriously? I love that Jesus implies we are to have that type of relationship with people. Believers, identifying their sin and quickly forgiving each other. Let’s make this normal and healthy!
–If there is repentance, forgive. To be honest, I sifted this verse back and forth a bit, feeling it out and trying to shape it into what I wanted it to say. I want it to give me permission to withhold forgiveness unless there’s an apology. To allow me to store the ways I’ve been sinned against and pull them out like hall passes, excusing my behavior. But, according to the rest of the Bible, Jesus is not approving of bitterness and resentment.
Is he saying we don’t have to forgive until someone repents and apologizes? Apparently. But even typing that sentence, I know I’m still defining forgiveness incorrectly.
The last sentence of that verse reflects godly forgiveness perfectly: forgive freely. If someone wronged me seven times in one day, I would be highly suspicious of the authenticity of their apology. Jesus doesn’t say, ‘make sure they’re really sorry’. Or, ‘find your own ways of punishing them in the meanwhile’. He doesn’t put us in charge of deciding if someone’s really sorry or keeping track of how often they mess up, he only insists that we forgive. It’s part of his other commandment to us: to love people. And loving people is believing the best in them (1 Cor. 13:7). If someone repents to you, choose to believe that they are sincere and forgive them.