We have heard the debate on who we are to forgive. We are told that our preaching needs to be more focused on grace and forgiveness. But my experience has been that it is they who understand grace the least and are the least forgiving.
Generally speaking, we are to forgive everyone. Just like God, we can’t be respecters of persons. But when the question “who are we to forgive?” is more closely investigated, we learn that while God genuinely offers forgiveness to all, He only forgives those who come to Him in repentance. This is the same measure Christians should require.
We too are to forgive one another, just as He forgave us. We are to forgive if and when someone repents. This leads to a degree of forgiveness that restores the relationship and the past is put to rest.
The graphic above is a way of showing the rightness of this path in contrast to the popular idea that we just forgive everyone, whether or not they repent, and whether or not they ask for forgiveness. The consequence of following the popular path is to create a church full of superficial relationships which makes it impossible for real Christian fellowship to occur. With the unrepentant being forgiven, allowed to continue on his way, relationships are strained and whatever forgiveness is given, is at best a superficial show and completely unlike the forgiveness God intended.
Witholding Forgiveness: Who must I forgive?
How God forgives, we forgive
Everyone is subject to the Law of Christ
1 John, Forgiveness of God