Question

Can we withhold forgiveness until the person has reformed?

Bible Answers

Romans 14:13 (NKJV) "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

Romans 12:17-18 (NKJV) "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Inspired Answer

"One man is never to say to another, "When I see that you have reformed, then I will forgive you." This is not God's plan. This is in accordance with the promptings of human nature. By showing that you do not desire fellowship with your brother, you not only hurt his soul and your own, but you also wound and bruise the heart of Christ.—Mrs. E. G. White {RH, April 8, 1902 par. 4}  

Additional Thoughts

Forgiving before there is any change is not easy, but apparently necessary. This would be particularly true in the marriage relationship. In forgiving, however, we help the other person in their healing journey. By withholding forgiveness, we cause them to continually face an area of weakness, which only makes them weaker. Jesus had power with people because he saw what they could become through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. When we do the same, we will see transformations as well!—Dan