In my post on forgiveness, I cited the instructions of Jesus: when someone treats us wrongly we are to first confront (“rebuke”) them about the issue. If they apologize or acknowledge their error (“repent”), then we are to forgive them.
From this, we can infer a three-step process:
- We confront
- They apologize
- We forgive
Which evokes several questions:
- Must apology proceed forgiveness?
- If the offending person refuses to apologize are we still expected to forgive?
- What about us and Jesus, do we need to apologize (“confess” and “repent”) to him before he will forgive us?
Frankly, I don’t know the answers to these questions. Although this passage implies one set of answers, other verses in the Bible suggest the opposite.
Could the real answer to each question be “maybe?” Perhaps God wants to keep us from turning his words into a simple three-step procedure. Instead he gives us guidelines to study, interpret, and apply as appropriate.