Gary Chapman’s Wisdom on Confronting an Offender


By Gary Chapman

God does not forgive everyone.  He forgives those who repent of their sin, place their faith in Christ, and accepts his forgiveness.  The Christian who sins and refuses to repent will be disciplined by God, Hebrews 12: 5-6.  The discipline is designed to bring us to confession and repentance.  When that happens, God freely forgives us and our fellowship is restored.  That is the fundamental pattern for forgiveness in human relationships.  There are three distinct elements to the cycle of forgiveness: 1) A sin is committed.  2) Confession and repentance on the part of the one who sinned.  3) Forgiveness on the part of the one who was sinned against.  Jesus spells this out clearly in Luke 17:3.


When confession and repentance are not forthcoming, we are instructed to confront the offender.  In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus indicated that if the first confrontation does not invoke repentance, we should take someone with us in a second effort.  And then share it with the larger group of the church.  If, after the third effort, the offender persists in sinful behavior, he/she is to be treated as an unbeliever.  This means that we pray for them and we return good for evil.  But it does not mean that the relationship is mended.  God has not forgiven them, nor does he expect us to forgive them.  However, we must, as God does, stand ready to forgive if and when the offender repents.


Typically an offense in a marriage stimulates hurt and anger in the heart of the one who is offended.  The anger should lead us to confrontation, hoping for repentance so that we can forgive.  When repentance is not forthcoming, we must release our anger to God who judges righteously, Romans 12: 19-21.  As we release the anger to God and place the offender in God’s hands, we can now “return good for evil.”  This is precisely what Jesus did when he was offended.  “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly,” 1Peter 2:23.  Jesus put the offenders in the hands of his father, who is both loving and just, and stands ready to forgive all who will repent.  That is the biblical pattern for us.  We must never allow anger to live in our hearts.  We must always be ready to forgive when an erring spouse turns from their sin and reaches out in confession.


More Communication Wisdom From Dr. Gary Chapman

We’re so very thankful to have Dr. Gary Chapman share his wisdom with HomeLife readers! Here are a few more of his tips for developing rich communication in your marriage (“Sweet Talk,” March 2013):

Emotions are a natural part of life. All feelings have their place in our lives, and many of them communicate a lot about us. Most of our feelings are tied to some experience we had in our past or something we are going through now. The next time you feel disappointed, ask yourself, “What stimulated my disappointment?” Then try to share that specifically with your spouse. Revealing your feelings lets your spouse know what is going on inside of you—what you are feeling and why. For example, you might say, “I’m feeling angry with myself because I came home late last night and we missed our dinner reservations.” Such a statement may encourage your mate to say, “I’m disappointed too. Maybe we can do it Thursday.” Revealing your feelings creates an atmosphere of intimacy and trust.

Conversely, when your spouse shares his or her feelings, don’t respond with condemnation. If you say, “Well, that’s nothing to be disappointed about. You shouldn’t let that bother you,” you have become a preacher, not a loving listener. Saying, “I can see how that would be disappointing. Tell me more about it,” encourages openness.

Not only do we need to share our thoughts and feeling, we also need to share our desires. Expressing your desires in terms of “I want …, I wish …, I hope …, or I would like …” gives your spouse valuable information instead of making demands. If you express the desire for a new dress for the party, then perhaps your spouse will desire to make it happen. If he doesn’t know this desire, he is not likely to come up with the idea himself. I’m not suggesting that we do everything our spouse requests. But, sharing our desires makes it possible to have a meaningful response. Incidentally, helping fulfill the desires of your spouse is one way of expressing your love.

CLOSED Giveaway: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

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Happy February! Did you catch this month’s Family Time: Show Some Love? To celebrate the love month, we’re giving away a copy of The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman.

Enter below! We’ll choose the winner Monday morning.

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