When someone repeats their past mistakes and hurts us again and again, our tendency is to no longer forgive them – because we listen to the voice that tells us we must protect ourselves from them.
So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
Luke 17:3-4 NLT
We are to be a voice of encouragement and accountability into the lives of other believers. If we choose to stop being that voice in their lives because we have grown weary, either from the repeated pain or from the hopeless feeling that they refuse to change, then we are choosing the path of last resistance, the broad path that is easy and is chosen by many.
That path offers less testing and proving through the faith that refines us. In fact, the resulting lack of exercise and testing of out hearts results in the love of many waxing cold. It is not healthy, in fact, it is quite dangerous for us to turn to the cold, exacting, judgemental nature of a legalistic and religious person who measures and judges people and offers sacrifices at their altar of religion, but who produces no love in their life and in the lives of others. Yes, Jesus tells us to even love our enemies, so we do not have the excuse of someone being our enemy to release us from the obligation of loving and forgiving them.
And fellow believers need accountability, they need a gentle rebuke when gentleness is called for, and they need a more clear and direct rebuke when their rebellion puts them in the path of death – but it must always be done from the stance of love, with the intent of encouraging them towards repentance, and the hope of seeing them restored.
Even though there are many unfaithful who would claim the name of Jesus Christ today falsely, by cling to the promise of grace and forgiveness while ignoring repentance and following Christ – that doesn’t mean that we are to be silent and let them continue blindly into the darkness. The same ones who respond, “You can’t judge me. You aren’t perfect either.” As they cling boldly to their sin with no fear of God whatsoever are the blind that need the healing touch of the truth. And that is exactly what a rebuke is – it is speaking truth into the life of someone who is confused, misled, lost, and struggling – it is done in love to provide assistance and guidance in hopes they will step back onto the narrow path.
But broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many will refuse to follow the path with their actions even though they will try to claim Him with their words. But it is our hearts that are weighed, my friends.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:21 NLT
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Matthew 15:8 NLT
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:2-3 NLT
Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Matthew 9:13 NLT
Show mercy, friends – for that is where Christ is found, that is where His love is demonstrated, and that is how your life can be used as a vessel of His glorious grace.
Find mercy and love for those who persecute you and you will soar like on the wings of eagles where their actions can no longer touch or harm you in the places that matter. For we are temporary residents of this foreign land, and we return to our home eternal soon enough. What can mere men take from us that we are not willing to give in exchange for our eternal life with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Matthew 16:24-27 NLT
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.