Matthew 5: 43-45
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Following on from my forgiveness post, I wanted to explore something that came up in the comments. From a Biblical standpoint, does forgiveness go hand in hand with letting the forgiven back into your life?
From the above verse (one of my favorites) it doesn’t seem to mention anything about letting the forgiven back in. I decided to have a look at some other verses that dealt with forgiveness
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Matthew 18: 21-35
Then Peter came to Him and said, “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. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Mark 11:25 seems to deal with forgiveness without mentioning having to let the person back into your life, but Matthew 18:21-35 seems less clear cut, in my eyes.
Despite the servants debts, the Master not only forgave him, but released him and cancelled the debt, allowing him to serve again. Whilst this seems a clear cut case of forgiveness being synonymous with acceptance, it makes no mention of it at the end and continues to simply say that you must forgive the trespasses of your enemies.
My opinion on it is this. Forgiveness is something that every Christian should practice if they expect God to forgive them in turn. Acceptance of the transgressor back into your life, however, is a matter of personal choice using the free will that God blessed us with