Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”Matthew 18
Forgiveness sometime stinks. Upon forgiveness we lose our perceived position of power and right of retaliation upon the offending party. We must lay our club down. We become disarmed. Peace treaties are signed and enacted and if we violate these treaties, we exchange positions and are in need of forgiveness. Risk is inherent in these gnarly relational intrigues. Power over the offender by withholding forgiveness was illusionary anyway… what were we thinking? That we somehow were different or better?
Forgiveness of serial offenders is obligatory when the “forgivor” is faced with legitimate repentance of the “forgivee”. We commonly forgive that chap closest to us multiple times daily… we forgive ourselves and go on and forget our transgression, and life is restored until our next sin and repentance. (#CSLewis)
To not forgive is inexcusable and off the table. Am I in the place of God? This does not nullify a potential change, even a relational change. (“I’ve got my eye on you…”) Serial forgiveness of a serial repenter does not imply my assumption or obligation of a lowly victim status. It is not grace nor graceful to enable an abuser by my becoming a serially abused person. The victor or innocent one in these repetitious fracases can easily morph into the victim status; there is but an ill-defined, short distance and few steps from the doorway to doormat. Doesn’t God in Christ offer options of expectations? If you repent then you are saying “God did something in me and to me. It is no longer I, but now the new me!”
Consequential loss of privilege may be required. A pastor who betrays his congregants in a gross or public way, or by serial blunders, is not worthy of his calling even when forgiven. He needs go get a real job in a real secular world as Moses in Midian, show faithfulness, (practice humility and repentance with the sheep as another dumb sheep and not as a shepherd), then wait upon the Lord with an eye out for a burning bush. Then only with a reluctant dragging should one draw near the pulpit again.
“Forgiveness is one of the easiest things we might do once we have finally done it. It is much like riding a bike, once accomplished we never forget how to ride and we wonder why it was ever so difficult.” Lewis paraphrase
“Forgive and you shall be forgiven.”
“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” (Someone)
“Yada Yada” we all said…