We as Christians are to be known for our love, even to the point of loving our enemies. We are to be ready to forgive those who mistreat and hurt us. We are to remove the log from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from our bother’s eye. Often for me personally, after I have done that, I don’t have a need to say anything. We need to be ready to extend grace. Forbearance is not passive. Forbearance allows us to understand, accept, forgive and let go of the offence without bringing the matter to their attention.
Forbearance is not choosing silence while nursing inner discontent, anger and bitterness. It may look peaceful on the outside, but results in further conflict and broken relationships. Matthew 18 instructs us to go directly to the person who sins against us. If that is ineffective, we then can involve others. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 instructs us to be gentle and not quarrelsome in hope that they will come to their senses. Galatians 6 cautions us to restore gently and to watch ourselves or we may also be tempted.
Below are some guidelines taken from an article by Leslie Vernick:
1. The matter dishonors God. (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 5:11,12; Romans 2:19-24)
When Queen Esther was told of Hamen’s wicked plan to have all the Jews exterminated, she knew that it was a not time to forbear but to speak out. She didn't do it rashly, but prayerfully and thoughtfully. (Read the OT book of Esther for the story). She was afraid but she knew she had to confront.
2. The matter hurts the person (James 5:19-20; Galatians 6:1)
We are to be faithful to our friends and friendships and that means that if we observe someone caught in a repetitive harmful sin or habit, we need to speak to them gently about it. Do you have a friend who is flirting with disaster? Tempted with an affair? Playing with drugs? Abusing alcohol?
So many people have told me they wished someone would have come along side of them and lovingly warned them before they fell of the cliff. Hebrews tells us to encourage each other day after day lest any of us become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
3. The matter has damaged the relationship (Matthew 5:23 Matthew 18:15 Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 17:9)
When someone repeatedly or grievously sins against us, this is not the time for forbearance but for talking. Matthew 5 and 18 tell us that if someone has sinned against us, or if we have something against another person, we are to go and make peace first before presenting our offering. Sometimes the relationship has been hurt or damaged by something someone has done. We can’t just forbear or forgive. Even if we've tried, we can’t let it go. We must talk about it or the relationship will deteriorate further.