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Forgiveness and avoidance behaviors

Matthew 18:22-

  “Jesus said to him. ‘ I do not say to you  up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’"

In Matthew 18;22, the Lord Jesus commanded the disciples that we as believers should forgive an offense up to 70 times 7 in the same day for the same offense. The disciples, upon hearing this were flabbergasted and asked for more faith! By their response, we can deduce that they did not believe that they were capable of such radical love. They believed that their brethren would take advantage of them and they would be humiliated and left with nothing. This of course is not the case —ever-- because the amount of love that this action requires can only come from God and when the offending party sees this crazy love, the goodness of God draws him to repentance. 

Further, if the person who does the offending hardens their heart and refuse to repent, the Lord has set up a catch system. The offender will gain a natural fear of the person they have sinned against so that they will begin to avoid them. This “avoidance” response will sometimes be perceived by the person who was sinned against as a bad thing. It is not bad- it is exactly the design of the Lord because it enables the following:

  1.     The person who is sinning will avoid the person they are sinning against and therefore decrease their opportunity to heart that person further.

  2.     The person who is sinning will have a deep regret and longing to regain that relationship but will not “allow” themselves to do that until they can behave. 

This is how the Lord will protect us from those who would continue to sin against us without repenting. This does hurt us sometimes if we are on the receiving end of the sin because our hearts will long for the relationship to be reconciled because we see the good in the other person. We must pray through these feelings. 

   Jesus says that if someone sins against you and you are offended at them then you have to go and talk to them about it. If they refuse to repent, then you take a witness or two with you - if they still refuse, you call them out in front of the church and if they still refuse they are to be to you as an unbeliever. That means that at this point, you would begin praying that they get saved. The reason that you pray that they get saved after all of this is because they are displaying actions that indicate they are not saved. The heart that is unrepentant is not a Godly heart. {see Matthew 18:15-17}

  Now that this concept has been established, one question remains. Why do believers know, and to some extent, attempt to obey the 70 x 7 rule yet believe that God would hold Himself to a lesser standard?

  God is love and He is wisdom. He has made us in His image and has given us (believers) the Spirit of Love and the Spirit of Wisdom. We are capable of and required to do what He is capable of and requires of Himself!! So often believers believe the wrong impression of God. They believe that if they fail to read their bible, miss church, cuss, drink, have an adulterous affair that all of sudden they are cut off from God. They would not go so far as to articulate their feelings in this way but veil the truth by believing this behavior will restrict them from the blessings of God. In this same way, believers who sin against God have a habit of running from God and “hiding” from Him. They somehow think that avoiding God will save them when exactly the opposite is true. You see, they are purposely discounting attributes of God so that they may somehow develop their own righteous judgement and therefore their own righteousness. First and foremost, the blessings of God are without repentance. He never takes them away! Second, God has given us- humans- the authority to allow God into our lives or not, to draw near Him or not. Third, one cannot separate God from His blessings. If one is close to God, one is close to the blessings of God because they are part of His construct. 

  In short, what kind of God would God be if He required 70x7 daily forgiveness from His creation and held Himself to a lesser standard? Answer- not God at all because our God, the one true God has ways that are higher than our ways, not lower!!



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