I have a question for you. Here it is ” If a man’s wife leaves him with five children and go with another man, and after a few months she returns to their home and beg for his forgiveness. Is he obligated to forgive her and take her back, as God has forgiven us and has said to forgive one another?
This is a very good and difficult question. Thank you for writing.
I believe you were referring to this this verse.
(Eph 4:32 KJV) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
God wants us to forgive from the heart, meaning that we wants us to forgive because we have compassion and mercy on the person who has done us great harm, knowing that it was God that worked that evil in them for a good purpose. We will only be able to forgive others to the extent that we ourselves know how much we have been forgiven. This parable makes some of these points.
(Mat 18:21 KJV) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
(Mat 18:22 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
(Mat 18:23 KJV) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
(Mat 18:24 KJV) And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. (billions of dollars)
(Mat 18:25 KJV) But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
(Mat 18:26 KJV) The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
(Mat 18:27 KJV) Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
(Mat 18:28 KJV) But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence (small ammount): and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
(Mat 18:29 KJV) And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
(Mat 18:30 KJV) And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
(Mat 18:31 KJV) So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
(Mat 18:32 KJV) Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
(Mat 18:33 KJV) Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
(Mat 18:34 KJV) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
(Mat 18:35 KJV) So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
We all tend to look at the sins that others commit against us and think that what they are doing to us is far worse than anything we have ever done. Most of us have not committed adultery, or murdered anyone. We regard each other after the flesh and only judge by outward appearances. Our Father in heaven looks at the heart and knows that we are full of wickedness, even if the outside of the cup is clean.
If we are full of hate, envy, pride, lust, etc. we are just as guilty and even more so than the one who has committed physical adultery. The more we understand the depths of our own depravity and sin the more compassion we will have on our fellow servant. The point of the parable above is that we have been forgiven billions of dollars in debt and are strangling our brother over five dollars. However in our carnal minds we just don’t see our own debt clearly.
We are commanded to forgive our brother or sister when they repent.
(Luk 17:3 NKJV) Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
All of that being said, we need to be wise and look for fruits of repentance and not just words.
(Mat 3:8 NKJV) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
This woman you are asking about was full of evil spirits and believing all kinds of lies that drove her to leave her husband and children. Maybe that experience of leaving for a while opened her eyes to the evil within her and she has been brought to true repentance. The only way to know for sure is to give her some time to bear good fruit in keeping with her repentance.
Now if she is repenting to her husband with her mouth and then still calling the man she committed adultery with every day, her repentance is probably not genuine. It’s not always easy at first to discern if someone has been granted genuine repentance, or if it is just keeping up appearances to get what they want.
It is best to just have mercy and wait for God to manifest what he has put in their heart.
(1Co 4:5 NKJV) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
(Jas 2:13 NKJV) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Just imagine how you would feel if you were caused by God to make a very grievous error and then genuinely repent of that evil. What if the person you harmed refused to forgive you? Imagine the pain and misery of deeping knowing your error and not being able to be reconciled?
In 1 Corinthians 5 there was a man committing a grievous sin and he was put out of the fellowship over that. Then by the time 2 Corinthians is written the man has repented of his evil and is looking for forgiveness. Paul tells the Corinthians to forgive and comfort the man lest he be swallowed up in much sorrow.
(2Co 2:6 NKJV) This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,
(2Co 2:7 NKJV) so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
The man in your story should forgive his wife who left lest she be swallowed up in much sorrow, assuming she is genuinely repenting. We are given the story of Joseph in Genesis to tell us how to handle people who do great evil to us.
(Gen 50:15 NKJV) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.”
(Gen 50:16 NKJV) So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying,
(Gen 50:17 NKJV) ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
(Gen 50:18 NKJV) Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
(Gen 50:19 NKJV) Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?
(Gen 50:20 NKJV) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
(Gen 50:21 NKJV) Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
It was God that caused this great evil for a very good purpose. God makes people sin against us so that we can learn to forgive and be kind to our enemies just as Christ has forgiven us and has been kind to us, who were once his enemies.
We should not forgive out of obligation, for that is only cleaning the outside of the cup. We must pray that God will grant us a soft heart to have mercy and compassion on those who do us great harm.
It is also important for the man in this situation whose wife left him, to consider what part he played in her leaving. He was likely doing things that contributed to the problem. Yes she was wrong to leave, but that should not stop him from from searching his own heart and asking God to reveal his sin to him.
(Mat 7:5 KJV) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
(Gal 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
When we only focus on another person’s sin we are going to miss the beam that is stick in our own eye.
(Psa 19:12 NKJV) Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
I hope this is of some help to you,