“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…”
Both King David and Nathan, God’s prophet, were blessed through their personal obedience (see 2 Samuel 12:1-15). Spiritual forgiveness always anticipates an act of genuine repentance. For that reason, on special occasions, a well worded rebuke will be the kindest possible evidence of a fellow believer’s love. Nathan’s inspired rebuke of David was a wake-up call which made all the difference in his years of future ministry!
As a precaution against an unforgiving spirit, it is wise to immediately begin praying when a sin is committed against you or someone you love. This is important because you may find it beyond your natural ability to accept an offender’s sincere apology or repentance. This is especially true when the exact same offence has repeatedly been committed. Remember how the Lord taught us to pray – “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). We may need God’s forgiveness “seven times” or many additional times for the exact same sin (see Luke 17:4), so remember that when forgiving others.
It is life’s ultimate privilege to be conformed to the Lord’s image. That’s why Christian forgiveness must be experienced as we become more like Him. We are enabled to experience this process through the miracle of His transforming power. Forgiveness, holiness, and love are the very essence of who God truly – is. That’s why His wonderful attributes portray the mature Christian witnesses that He wants us to – become!
By Billie Hanks Jr.