A Question About Offense

Q. I understand the obligation to forgive and am striving to do so, but how do I deal with being offended by a minster who refuses to repent, will not say sorry, has no intention of correcting the wrong and sees no reason to make any effort to deal with the matter. The minister concerned knows that they have done wrong but is of the view that ministers should never lower themselves to apologize to the laity.

A. I think you’ll find your answer in Matt. 18:15-17.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

To me this means we’re no longer required to maintain a relationship with the other person, but can treat him or her like we would an unbeliever.

But that doesn’t mean we’re justified in not forgiving the offense. In Matt. 18:21-35 the Lord went on to explain the necessity of forgiving, not for the benefit of the other person, but to maintain our fellowship with the Lord.

In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, the servant’s unwillingness to forgive a brother didn’t mean He was no longer a servant of His master, but it did mean he was no longer welcome in the master’s presence and no longer enjoyed the master’s protection. It’s a sobering lesson on the requirement to forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us. Failing to do so won’t cost us our salvation, but it will interrupt our fellowship with the Lord.

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