We all know people who, at some point in their lives, disappointed us. Because of this, relationships can become so broken that there is no longer any contact. It may be leaders who fail, friends who let us down, family members who cause great offence or mates who sin by departing from the marriage and God’s Church.
Sometimes there really is a somber and grim finality in which relationships end, without any hope of reconciliation or restoration. We understand that Satan and those angels who followed him in rebellion will be ultimately and absolutely cut off from God. Furthermore, people who refuse to repent, but who instead harden their heart, sear their conscience and completely reject God and His Way, will be destroyed.
Sometimes, however, relationships can be restored! God, against Whom all of mankind have sinned, gave His Son to reconcile us to Himself (Romans 3:21-26; 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; 1 John 2:2). Through Jesus Christ, we can now have access to the Father (John 14:6; 16:26-27). Our part in this reconciliation is to repent and obey God. (Acts 2:38; 3:19-21).
We are told, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). This must be our approach to others, but it takes real effort on our part. A first step in this is our willingness to forgive upon sincere and godly repentance of the other person, and this is a grave responsibility, as Jesus taught:
“‘Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, “I repent,” you shall forgive him’” (Luke 17:3-4).
“‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Take a moment and think about someone who sometime, somewhere or somehow offended you. Can you forgive them when they show through their conduct that they are truly repentant of what they did? When you sin against another person and repent, would you not want to obtain forgiveness so that a right relationship can be restored? Then, that same responsibility of forgiving others upon their repentance rests with you as well.