The Fine Line

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Jesus tells Peter to forgive his brother 70 x 7, a way of saying, “Just keep on forgiving.” Jesus also says, “This is wicked generation. How long must I remain with you?” He wasn’t having any problem forgiving them while pointing out the frustrating failure of their faith. So, there is a fine line between unforgiveness and faces reality. It appears that we should release forgiveness without limit yet emulate Jesus’ clear discernment of personal problems and communicate these observations.

The difference comes in the definition of the relationship. Jesus has responsibility to speak of the failure of faith because He has the role of leader, and He speaks this way to the people with whom He has this relationship. Unforgiveness is a response to something done against us, and Jesus isn’t offended by the failure of their faith even though He makes a really strong statement about it. He is speaking out of unkindness or judgment in the sense of lacking the patience of agape love. He is teaching, training, rebuking, and challenging, as a leader must, in order to faithfully discipline and change bad behavior.

Because some believers have a problem with leadership, they see any correction as ugliness. Because they do not accept the role of leadership in their lives, they do not accept the responsibility of leaders in that relationship to teach, train, rebuke, or challenge their behaviors. They see any response but “love is kind and patient” as unforgiveness, or lack of mercy. They childishly expect leaders to ignore the very things leaders are responsible to deal with.

Don Lynch

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