[Papercut Press Publishing] 1999-07-07 - Forgiveness

Wednesday Questions, Part 3

Great idea; I have been struggling with an issue. Forgiveness. I have several "friends" who have turned away from me. Some are Christian, but others are not. I have tried to keep the lines of communication open, be non-judgmental, and let them know that I am there for them. But, nothing. I confess, this is taking too much time out of my life, but I can't seem to get beyond the fact that I am hurt. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Paul

Forgiveness is a great topic and an issue that we all, like it or not, experience from both ends. We are all the objects of forgiveness in someones eyes and we should also all be forgiving of others. In forgiveness we do at least three things. We forbear, acquit, and do good to those we have forgiven. Unless we can do all three of these, we may not have really forgiven that person.

  1. To forbear does not simply mean that we put up with the person who has offended us. We do that also, but in forbearing we go the further step of not taking advantage of our situation. Lots of people work on the logic of, "you do this to me, I do this to you", but not so with the Christian, "Say not, I will do so to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." Proverbs 24:29. Colossians 3:13 says, "forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also should you."

  2. It would be easy to forbear with one another if we were doing so only while looking for the opportunity to exact revenge upon the person. But again, real forgiveness does not think this way. Forgiveness implies a sincerity and comprehensiveness that puts away all anger, wrath, and desire for revenge. Forgiveness offers acquittal from the offended party to the offending party. For a Biblical example of this kind of forgiveness look at Genesis 50:15-21.

  3. Forgiveness does good in return. "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you." Luke 6:27. And, Matthew 5:44, "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." Forgiveness is that strange but wonderful practice that seeks the good of the one who caused the hurt.

Of course, this is the example given to us by Christ. Christ is the arch-type example in the forgiveness profile. Christ offers forgiveness to us when we have done Him, His Church, and His name great harm. It was our sin which placed Him on the cross and for which He died and yet He comes to us in grace and mercy offering forgiveness, forbearing with us, and seeking our best interests in return.

Real forgiveness requires perseverance in that forgiveness and that is never an easy thing with sinners. Sinners, and we have everyone in mind now, let us down. They do things that make us desire to withhold the forgiveness we have offered in the past and exact the revenge or wallow in the hurt that we feel we deserve. While our propensity might be to do this, it is not the example left to us by Christ. Christ is forgiving to us, time and again, and the wonder of His grace to us should cause us to persevere all the more with those whom we struggle to forgive or to continue to forgive.

Years ago an inhuman slave master was beating a slave with a lacerated whip. He said to the half-dead slave, "What can Jesus Christ do for you now?", replied the slave, "Him teach me to forgive you massa."

Soli Deo Gloria,