“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he sins against you seven times a day,
and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’
I have wrestled with this verse. We are to forgive as Jesus forgave, and didn’t He die to forgive all sins? Let’s look closely at that. Yes, Jesus’ death on the cross has the power and authority to forgive all sins, but it is only those who repent that he extends the benefits of that forgiveness to. Likewise, then, we are to forgive those who repent. But also, likewise, we need to have a forgiving heart that is ready to extend forgiveness to those who sin against us even if the forgiveness is held back until they repent. This does not put you in the place of judge, but rather of friend.
Unforgiveness is often referred to as bitterness or taking poison hoping that the other person dies. So no matter whether the person repents or not, for your own benefit, you need to forgive them. Whether you extend that forgiveness to them or hold it in reserve, is a different question. And remember that forgiving a person does not mean that you have to continue in a relationship with that person. If repentance is sincere, then a relationship may continue. If there is no repentance, then that relationship changes.
Forgive as Jesus forgave you – to the depth of a death on the cross, for every sin possible, and with compassion and joy. Worship Him for how great His forgiveness is and then turn and forgive those in like manner as they repent. Choosing not to have a relationship with those who don’t repent is being like Jesus!