The Importance of Providing Opportunities to Repent

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Christians are called to not only be willing to forgive but also to provide opportunities for repentance to those who wronged them.  The Biblical idea of being unable to repent is a terrible curse from God and we ought not to be dispensers of that curse as it is not our place to avenge ourselves.  The heart of our Savior, whom we are to imitate, is one of eager acceptance of repentance and oft-providing opportunities for it.  We Christians we should be displaying what our God is like by not only being willing to forgive but going out of our way to give people the opportunity to ask for forgiveness.

In the Bible the idea of not being able to repent and ask forgiveness is an awful one.  On multiple occasions the Lord tells people that even if they come with sacrifices and pleas for mercy they will be rejected:

“I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them” (Ezek. 8:18)

And:

“Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence” (Jeremiah 14:12)

It is a curse from God when He refuses to give people the opportunity to repent and ask for forgiveness – a clearer picture of Hell’s attitude could not be asked for.[1]  Thanks be to God that this is not His normal way of doing things.

God allows opportunities for repentance and indeed prods people with the intent that they should turn and repent.  We have already seen in the quotes above that the Lord threatens to reject repentance, in order to cause people to see the need for immediate and true repentance.  We furthermore see the attitude of encouraging repentance in the life of Jesus when our saviour wonderfully says: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:23).  Jesus came, he got off his butt and walked over, to encourage sinners to repent and seek forgiveness.  The Lord not only allows repentance and requests for forgiveness but goes out of His way to provide opportunities for them to happen.

As Christians we are called to model what Christ is like to the world and this includes providing opportunities of repentance to those who have wronged us.  We can be so hurt by a person that all we want to do is avoid them for the rest of our lives.  We don’t want to deal with the pain of remembering what has happened.  But does this accurately model the heart of God to them?  We, as Christians, ought to provide opportunities for repentance to those who have wronged us.  What this will look like depends on the situation: sometimes we should approach them in an attitude of humility and tell them how they have hurt us; sometimes we should simply provide opportunities for them to be able to speak with us – there are times when people want to repent but we’re so busy running away that they can’t catch us.  If a person wants to ask us to forgive them, but we grant them no opportunity to pose the question, then they will have to either stew in their guilt or suppress the fact that they’ve done wrong and so harden their heart even more.  When we don’t provide opportunities for repentance to our wrongdoers we both fail to model Christ to them and we, more likely than not, encourage the hardening of their heart.  Part of being an ambassador of Christ in this world is doing the hard thing of going out of our way to allow people to have a chance to ask us to forgive them.


[1] Of course there is a differentiation between false repentance and true repentance – God does not despise the contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).  But, this fact should not take away from the sting that the Lord intends by warning people that a day may come when they seek mercy and find none, nor is there any guarantee that the Lord will grant them the gift of true repentance on that day.

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About salutations75

Born and raised Atheist turned Reformed Baptist.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Personal, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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