The Tie Between Forgiveness and Repentance

The Neighbor and the Thief

There once was a very peaceful neighborhood.  This neighborhood had a reputation of being a very God-fearing group, and very close-knit.

One evening, that peace was broken and there was a commotion during a usually very quiet time.  The other neighbors gathered into a crowd and found another well-known neighbor holding another by the arm.  The other neighbor being held was caught in the act of being a thief.  The thief kept yelling, “Let me go!  You know me!  Are you really going to call the police?  Let me go!  You say you’re a Christian?  Forgive me and let me go!”

-THE CROWD  “What is going on here?  We all know these neighbors and have all broken bread together.  Sir, is it your intention to let him go?”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “I would love nothing more than to forgive him and let him go.  If he calls out, repents for what he did, not only will I forgive him, but I will also wipe the slate clean and I promise that I will not remember this transgression against me.  Would you like to repent for what you did?”

-THE THIEF  “You all know me and know my heart.  I stand here today, held by the arm, and accused before all of you of being a thief!  I did have something I took from him, but he took it back.  You all know me!  I would never intentionally steal from any of you!  Please, release me and be quick with your forgiveness!”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “In this regard, I must be thorough.  You are requesting to be forgiven, but now I’m not sure what you are requesting to be forgiven for.  Let me make the record clear.  This thief is not being accused, he was caught in the very act.  Also, He was witnessed two other times committing acts against me of this same kind!  And now, this thief is lying to all of you to soften his crimes in the ears of the crowd. I wish for him to repent, and I’d like to ask him some questions; So, on three separate occasions did you enter my home and take a possession each time?  You committed three acts against me at three separate times, and now you are lying to the crowd to try to make me look foolish?  Explain yourself properly.”

-THE THIEF  “This is embarrassing!  You took your possession back from my hand and I say before this crowd, I will return to you the other two possessions, today.  This very crowd will see me making you whole again!

-THE CROWD  “Will you forgive him now?”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “It is truly my desire to forgive him, but I do need him to call out properly for what he has done, and then I will forgive him.”

-THE THIEF  “You’ve caught me, and I’m embarrassed!  This doesn’t seem very Christian of you to embarrass me.  Forgive me and let me go!”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “You need to truly repent for what you have done.  Is it true that you entered my home, on three separate occasions, and took a possession from me each time?”

-THE THIEF  “Yes, I did.”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “And you stand here tonight, held by me, in the very act of that third time, correct?”

-THE THIEF  “Yes, correct.  But you took it back, right from my hand!  I will make you whole, straight away after you release me.  Please forgive me now!”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “Is it correct that you altered some of the facts so that your transgressions against me seemed lesser?  That you lied to the crowd?”

-THE THIEF  “Yes, I lied because I was embarrassed.”

-THE NEIGHBOR  “Now go, and get my things, and then I will publicly forgive you, then speak to you privately.”

The thief went and got the possessions he had stolen from his neighbor and returned them to the neighbor in the presence of the crowd.  The neighbor publicly forgave and hugged the man.  The neighbor put his hand on his shoulder and said, “It was never about the possessions, or even entering my home, for you are my brother.  What I was calling out was the act that was in your heart.  By dissecting each detail of the event, a lie had no place to hide.  They all had to be brought into the light, repented of and forgiven of.  If I was to quickly forgive you, you may have held the justification you created in your mind to commit multiple transgressions against a brother and neighbor.  But we went through this ordeal persistently and flushed out every lie and every false justification to steal things I would have given to you if you had asked. Now you can go freely and take this ordeal up with the Lord.”

Accountability is an act of love. The man is now free of those sins from his brother but must also repent to the Lord and be accountable to Him!

Too many are quick to forgive and wonder why after a pile of forgiveness, and a thousand mercies, things keep getting more chaotic.  That is because without repentance, forgiveness is empty.  Hollow even.  Forgiveness and Repentance are two sides of single coin, and a one-sided coin does not exist.

I love you all,


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