Abuse and Forgiveness

How does one forgive someone who abuses them over and over? For years I thought I was supposed to forgive indefinitely because Jesus said to forgive, 70×7. But have you ever asked why 70×7? Are we really biblically responsible to give someone the opportunity to abuse us 70 times 7? Are we? 

In context here is what the Bible says when Peter asked Jesus about how many times we are to forgive. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven”.

The context in this parable is very important. Peter was asking what is required according to religious customs. He apparently believed he was being spiritual by forgiving more than what the law allows which was up to three times. This number was humanly contrived and to do with man’s law. However, Jesus was more concerned about the power of Agape love, not what the law said! Jesus was talking about salvation forgiveness, and not dealing with other’s offenses or he wouldn’t have told his disciples to not tolerate being disrespected in Matthew 10:5 where it reads: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave your home or town and shake the dust off your feet”.”

Clearly, Jesus didn’t want His disciples to tolerate indifference, but He did expect them to forgive those who sinned regardless of how many times they fell as long as they repented. Jesus who suffered the ultimate abuse said from the cross, “Forgive them they know not what they do!” What a precious gift He gave us! A chance to believe and repent! But this not your job to die for someone else’s sins!! 

Let’s be careful not to judge others for their ways, as this is not our job! There is only one righteous judge, and this is not us! Besides, judging is referring to condemning others in regard to their salvation. We are only called to stand in faith for the unsaved, not judge and condemn them to hell! We need to share the hope of heaven with the lost souls and not condemn them to hell. 

Jeremiah 17:10 says: I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Neither should we avenge ourselves!

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord 

Psalms 7:11 God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day. Obviously, judgment is different than discernment. As a Spirit led person, we need to spiritually discern whether we are to continue to fellowship with a person who continues to hurt us. 

What is discernment? Referencing from https://www.christianity.com in general: discernment is accurately evaluating ourselves, people, and situations. We discern things correctly by clearly perceiving what is true, right, and essential.

Dictionary.com defines discernment as “the faculty of discerning, discrimination, acuteness of judgment and understanding.” Scripture says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”

The apostle John similarly says in 1 John 4:1, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world“. This sounds like it is all believers’ responsibility to be discerning. But here’s the big question – how do we deal with an abusive person once we have discerned, they are not someone we should be around? We are to warn such persons once, then a second time, and then have nothing to do with them!

Titus 3:10-11 A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.

2 Corinthians 6:14–16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

We then forgive, or release people to God, through Agape love —— for the salvation of their soul. Remember, God says clearly, we are to “Warn a divisive person once, then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned”.

From what I explained, forgiveness doesn’t give someone the right to abuse or hurt you over and over. But the Lord does desire us to forgive. But, if they continue to demonstrate indifference and abusive behavior, forgive them, pray for them and let them go, or walk away. Forgiveness merely releases that person to God and allows the Lord to deal with their issues from that moment on, but forgiveness does not mean you are obligated to remain with that person.

Abuse in a marriage actually reveals the relationship is not a true covenant and not a marriage in the eyes of God beloved. Walking away is a choice you must make with God’s help and discerning of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes a separation helps each one acknowledges their own faults and find if there is still hope for the relationship. Of course, the relationship should only be restored if there is a promise of mutual cooperation and effort as they both seek God’s direction in their marriage.

Beloved, if you forgive someone for abuse this means you have turned this person over to God so He can deal with them. Forgiveness never means continuously making yourself a doormat or a punching bag for an abusive person. There is nothing wrong with removing someone out of your life to protect yourself and your family. After all, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God did say whoever destroys your temple, He will destroy!

Corinthians 3:17 NKJ 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Dear one, God loves you and will help you if you will forgive others and then ask Him to lead you in your decision of whether to stay or leave. 

In His matchless love, 

Irene Webster