September 09, 2021

Should We Forgive Someone Who Has Not Repented?

Nathan W. Bingham
Should We Forgive Someone Who Has Not Repented?

Are we required to forgive someone who has sinned against us--even if the offender has not repented? Today, Joel Kim observes how Jesus addressed this subject and the implication of His answer for the Christian life.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We're here at Ligonier's National 2021 conference and I'm joined by the president of Westminster Seminary California, Rev. Joel Kim. Rev. Kim, should we forgive if someone has not asked for our forgiveness or repented?

REV. KIM: That's a tough question because I think many people struggle with that question. The short answer is yes. Not because we're good. Not because we're swell. Not because we're over something that has been done against us. But simply because we're forgiven people.

We pray the Lord's Prayer all the time, don't we? "Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors." And oftentimes we recite these things as if they're a remote memory without thinking through the words that we're actually using. But in that is the statement simply reminding us that we're forgiven people; therefore we actually do forgive.

Jesus actually teaches us about this, doesn't He, when Peter approaches Him and asks Him a question about how many times we ought to forgive our brother. Should it be seven times? We're told it's actually seventy-seven times. And some translations actually have seventy times seven times. However many that is; that's actually a lot. And the point seems to be "over and over and over again."

We should remember that not only does Jesus say that we should forgive seventy-seven times; He actually tells us a parable right afterwards. And the parable is about someone who actually owed the king ten thousand talents. When he begged the king to forgive, the king forgave him of this enormous amount of money that no one can actually earn in one's lifetime. When the servant actually goes out, having been forgiven, and is approached by someone who owes him a far less amount, I think about a hundred denarii, very much a miniscule sum compared to ten thousand talents, this person instead of forgiving actually incarcerates the person until the person pays back. The point of that parable simply seems to be that those who are forgiven ought to forgive. Not because, again, we're good, but because Christ Jesus has forgiven us. And what He has forgiven us of is far greater than any offense or wrong that we could have received.

So this is not to say that this is an easy thing to do. But we ought to forgive simply because Jesus forgave us.