Q. Over a year ago, my father-in-law walked away from my mother-in-law to (in his words) “live life more abundantly” with another woman. As it turns out, this was not the first time he has done this in their almost 40 years of marriage. He has used scripture to tell us we need to forgive him, but he has never informed us of what we need to forgive. My wife and I are struggling with forgiveness, and we want to follow God’s will in our lives. We have many questions that we do not know the answers to. Do we forgive him while he is still in the act of this sin? Does forgiveness mean that we accept the other woman into our lives?
A. According to my understanding we’re to extend forgiveness as soon as it’s asked for, just like the Lord does for us. Failure to do so is a sin that requires confession and forgiveness too (Matt. 18:21-35). We should also make every effort to be reconciled with one another (Romans 12:17-21). Remember, forgiveness neither requires nor implies approval. The Lord doesn’t approve of our sinful behavior, He just forgives us for it.