If we are the offended party, how are we to forgive the offender? Here are the only two possible scenarios:
1) The offender is NOT repentant.
2) The offender is repentant.
In scenario #1, we are required to have a FORGIVING SPIRIT (or attitude) toward the person. If the offenese was sinful, we need to go to that person about the offense because of our concern for the other person.
Most people get this part wrong. They think they are to go to the other person because of their own hurt but that is self-centered rather than others-centered! Our heart must be softened toward the offender before we ever say anything to them. We must have a forgiving spirit toward the person! We need to think: “I’m going to use this hurt and conflict to demonstrate the LOVE of Jesus Christ to the other person.”
Really, if it is a sin issue, then you should NOT overlook the issue. In Luke 17:3, it says: “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” It’s a command. It’s not an option. Why? Because you are getting a sovereign opportunity to show the love of Christ to this other person. AND because you are getting a chance to call them to repentance with Christ for their own good and their own relationship with Him.
This offense between you and the person is important but it is BIGGER than that! It is between the offender and the Lord, also, as every sin against a person is ultimately against the Person of Christ.
Some people want to “overlook” the offense and will say that they are being spiritual when in reality, they are fearful or avoiding a conflict. They are peace lovers rather than peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). When this is true, they want peace at all costs rather than being a peacemaker who works to help this person gain peace with God. The offender who has sinned has ultimately sinned against God and desperately needs His divine forgiveness through Christ.
Do not be fearful. Do the right thing. Go to the offender out of LOVE for them! Call them to repent to God based upon the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary!
-Mark (more on forgiveness to come!)