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If the spirit of forgiveness actuates the heart, a person will be as ready to forgive a repentant soul the eighth time as the first time, or the 491st time as the eighth.
The believer should forgive no matter how the offending party responds to efforts of reconciliation. While we were yet sinners, Christ provided forgiveness for us “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus didn’t wait until we were receptive or responsive to Him.
Jesus also says, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6:27). And when He died on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34). He meant this for the people who were still driving the nails into His innocent hands.
Paul admonishes the believers, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20, 21). Paul says you are casting coals of fire on their head when you’re doing kindness for those being unkind to you. Showing love often initiates love.
Forgiveness, on the part either of God or of man, is much more than a judicial act; it is a restoration of peace where there had been conflict (Rom. 5:1). But forgiveness is even more than that—it includes the effort to restore the erring brother himself. However, this does not mean we need to endlessly submit to abusive behavior. It is possible to forgive a person and still accept that you cannot associate with him.
In His service,