When A Christian Stumbles in a Big Way: Part 3

I remember when I turned back toward my Father in Heaven. I knew I had not been doing right. I knew that I needed to repent. The only problem was that – regardless of my desire to do right – I did not feel all that sorry for what I had done wrong.

Have you ever felt like that? Or have you ever been more sorry that you got caught than you were sorry for what you had done?

Previously, we’ve talked about how hurtful it is when a Christian stumbles, and we’ve talked about accountability, consequences, and loss. Today we are going to take a look at forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

I remember praying that I wanted to feel sorry for what I had done. As time passed, God granted that prayer. I did come to be truly sorry for my actions. Although my behavior had previously changed, it was not until then that my heart was able to fully repent.

How do you know if someone is truly repentant? That’s kind of like asking how do you know if someone is saved. Only God really knows their heart. Ultimately, the consequences to you of having an unforgiving heart outweigh your need to know.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21-22

How many times do we need to forgive? Seventy times seven was meant to illustrate that you are to keep forgiving. You are to never stop forgiving.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15

I have The MacArthur Study Bible copyright 1997. According to the footnotes, this forgiveness of trespasses is not about a lost of justification. It is about a “simple washing from the worldly defilements of sin.”

When you don’t forgive others, you don’t get that type of forgiveness either.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

When we sin, we do not surprise God. He knew the choice we would make. Yet, He chose to let us face it. We have the opportunity to choose wrong, but we also have the opportunity to confess it, and receive forgiveness. We need to extend forgiveness to others.

What about mercy and grace? God had mercy and grace on us. We show others mercy when we don’t lash out at them when they mess up. We show them grace when we help them get back up.


Sometimes we don’t want to forgive others because we want revenge for what they did to us. Sometimes it is not so much what they did directly to us as it is that they embarrassed us, or brought shame to us.

At that point, our being unforgiving has more to do with us than it has to do with them.

Today’s challenge is to ask yourself if you have a hard time forgiving others. Do you show them mercy and grace? What does forgiving really cost you in comparison to not forgiving?

Next time we will talk about reconciliation.