Regarding Debts and The Limits of Forgiveness

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17, NRSV

It is not appropriate to forgive every debt, whether we’re talking relationally or monetarily. We all remember the 70 times 7 instruction and often assume that forgiveness must apply to every situation regardless of circumstances. We do not often remember the context of that passage, and the context contains limits.

What are these limits?


This series of instructions applies to those who stand "in community" with one another. In community relationships, there is an assumed level of trust, mutual respect, security, responsibility, and accountability. If a particular relationship in your life does not possess these qualities then we would not consider that an "in community" relationship.

Please note: Just because someone says they share your faith does not mean they actually do. Or, rather, it does not mean they actively apply that way of seeing to their lives. Do not be fooled by someone who uses faith language. The language is meaningless if they don't demonstrate their commitment to spiritual principles in their lives.