Must Christians always forgive those who do bad things to them?
This is another “Sacred Cow” in some Churches today! Some hold the Church to a higher standard than God’s standard. In order to be saved a person must repent (Luke 13:5) as declared by Peter in the Book of Acts (Acts3:19). Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Godly repentance leads to Salvation. I have heard and read that we must forgive all who hurt us, by word or deed, even without them being sorry!
God demands repentance. Jesus made it clear, without repentance there can be no forgiveness “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying: “I repent”, forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). What about the; “Souls under the Altar “crying out: and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10)
Please note: these Souls of believers are asking for revenge from God. We are not to take our own revenge Beloved, but to leave room for the wrath of God. (Romans 12:19). The word of God refutes those who teach a “Blanket” forgiveness of all and anything without repentance!
The Truth is, when offended by anyone who then says: “I’m Sorry”, the Lord Jesus said we must forgive! But those who murdered the Souls “Under the Altar” were not sorry and those Saints did not forgive them! We don’t take our own revenge but through prayer we place them in God’s Hands. He may deal with them immediately, or He may take time but be sure their fate is sealed. I have personally seen the Lord deal with my enemies. I remember a man I worked with, he constantly cursed at me, each time I went to him and asked what I had done to him, he said all was well. But he continued to do the same thing. I found out some time later that he was telling lies about me to my Boss. He caused me great suffering. Many years later after I had retired, I thought of this man while praying. I asked the Lord: “What about this man?” Everything seemed to go his way, I remembered from work. I forgot about this prayer, sometime later we went to visit our Family. I decided to visit my old job; I was invited to go to lunch with my old Boss and the man who hated me. While we were together, I heard this man tell my old Boss how terrible things were going for him at the job. I remembered I had placed him in God’s Hands. Scripture says: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). David went into the Temple of God to inquire about the wicked, what the Lord showed him caused him never to ask again!
In summary, I don’t believe the sugar coated word of those who add to or twist God’s Word. His forgiveness is totally linked to repentance and so is ours. If a believer or a non-believer offends you, tell them, give them an opportunity to repent. And if they say they are sorry, forgive them, if they are not, ask the Lord to intervene (Some may be Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, some not). When we lean on the Lord by Faith and Pray, He will always bring the best outcome for us. The outcome for the wicked is never good! Pray for your enemies, bless them, do good to them. It is only by God’s grace that they will repent, if they do, it will remove that invisible wall between you and them, especially if they are friends or fellow believers. For the “Blanket” forgiveness folks, consider this: married couples, Christians or not, when one is offended and the other not sorry, what is the outcome? (Resentment and separation, bad feelings). Does the offended one say: I forgive you even though you are not sorry? No, the relief comes when the words: “I’m sorry” are said, both sides feel a relief, thus obeying the Lord’s word of forgiving one another. I would like to add, for believers, even though someone offends you, doing good to them brings the Holy Spirit’s power into this situation. Pray God will convict them in their consciences that they are wrong, causing them to repent and ask for forgiveness. When you have done all and they continue to hurt you by word or deed, leave them to God, He will repay! When we sin, we sin against God but always remember, if we confess (Repent) of our sins, He is faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1-John 1:9 NASB). I must repeat, we are not held to a “Higher” standard than God, that is forgiving people who do not repent!
Alexander the copper smith did me much harm; the Lord will “repay” him according to his deeds. 2-Timothy 4:14 NASB. Paul the Apostle obviously had not forgiven this man, I believe this man as well as those who murdered the “Souls under the Altar” were not repentant of their deeds. Paul, like those Saints looked to the Lord to take revenge (Paul obeyed God’s word by not taking his own revenge). Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 NASB )
In rightly dividing the word of truth we find that contrary to what some of the modern Churches teach, revenge has it’s place in a Christian’s walk with the Lord. How do we reconcile this with “Love your enemy”? Yes, love them with a social, friendly love (It is NOT the Agape love Jesus said we are to have for a brother or sister in Christ, that only come through the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believer). It can be hard to even love them with the “Philo” social, friendly love, the worlds love. Jesus had this friendly love even for Judas and was greived when he betrayed him. (We must consider those in Satan’s Kingdom hate and dispise us and always will unless they are converted). Before Peter received the Holy Spirit, he was asked a few times by Jesus if he loved him, Peter’s responce was; Lord you know I love you (He spoke the Greek word “Philo” which is a friendly, social love) but Jesus was saying; Do you “Agape” me? ( This Greek word is a love that only God has, a giving and not taking love. John 3:16 ) Peter could only say; “I love you as my friend-Philo”. Finally, Jesus asked Peter; “Do you really love me as your friend”. This grieved Peter as friendly love was all he had, for now, when he did receive the Holy Spirit he also received Agape love for Jesus.
Overcome evil by doing good! (It’s like placing hot coals on their heads) but times may come when you have a “Righteous” anger when all you can feel is the need for revenge!
The Lord is ok with your desire for revenge but says; never take your own revenge beloved, through prayer, place them in my hands and my wrath will be upon them. (Paraphrased). It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31 NASB.
The souls of the murdered Saints under the Altar sought revenge (Which was coming), not forgiving but asking; “How long?”
Even Paul the Apostle sought God’s revenge against the coppersmith who did him much harm.
Conclusion: The “Blanket” forgiveness that some Churches teach and the world believes in, is not taught in God’s word!
When Jesus whipped the “Money Changers” in the Temple, was he loving them or forgiving them?
When he called the Pharisees children of Satan, was he loving or forgiving them?
It is through the leading of the Holy Spirit that righteous anger comes without sinning and leaves room for the wrath of God.
The only way to be sound in rightly dividing God’s word is to be filled and led by the Holy Spirit, then you will be a “Mature” Son of God. Only walking by Faith pleases Him!
Corrie Ten Boom in her Book: “The Hiding Place”, met the Nazi Commander of the Prison Camp where
her Sister had died. This man had become a Christian. When introduced to him,
he held out his hand. Momentarily, she could not shake his hand but the Lord
moved her in her heart and she did. The man, offering his hand was his way of
saying: “I’m Sorry”. He had hated her before being saved but the Lord gave him a New Heart of love.