STUFF THAT JESUS SAID..DAY 26
“If your brother or sister sins against you go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Are you holding a grudge against someone today? Where’s that getting you?
The Bible never gives a “dictionary” definition of forgiveness, but it shows us many examples of it. The greatest of all examples is the forgiveness of God. Although the following passage does not use the word forgive, it describes the concept of God’s forgiveness perfectly: For a person to find true forgiveness, he or she must admit the sin. This is called confession. If a person tries to pass off sin as a mere mistake, human failing, or temporary lapse of judgment; or if he or she simply denies the sin altogether, it is a barrier to forgiveness.
1 John 1:8–10: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
God forgives sin, yet this does not mean that He simply “looks the other way” or “sweeps it under the rug.”
In order for God to forgive us, Jesus gave Himself as the sacrifice for sin. Jesus alluded to that sacrifice at the Last Supper when He told His disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). After the resurrection, the apostles carried the message of forgiveness through Jesus Christ throughout the world, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles:
We often hear the phrase forgive and forget, and this can be misleading. As a rejoinder to this phrase, sometimes we hear, “I’ll forgive, but I will never forget.” To forgive and forget does not mean that a person who has been wronged develops some kind of sanctified amnesia. A person who has been abused will never forget that it happened. A person who has suffered from an adulterous spouse will always remember that experience. A parent who has had a child abducted will probably think about that crime every day he or she spends on earth. Yet, it is possible for each of these people who have been sinned against to forgive and also to forget, as long as the biblical definition of forget is in view.
Many wonder about forgiving people who have sinned but have not confessed, repented, or asked for forgiveness. Sometimes in court, the victims of a crime will get to speak to the perpetrator before the sentence is passed. Often the victims will tell how the crime has impacted them and ask the judge to impose the strictest sentence. But, on occasion, the victim will say to the perpetrator, “I forgive you.” Is this forgiveness valid if the convicted criminal has not confessed and asked for forgiveness?
The answer is both “yes” and “no.” On one hand, the victim often forgives the criminal so that he or she will not be eaten up by hatred for the criminal. The forgiveness granted by the victim in court does not absolve the criminal from any legal penalties, so the state is still right to prosecute. On the other hand, God forgives people when they confess their sin and ask for forgiveness; forgiveness only comes through faith in Christ, which involves a spiritual transformation. In the courtroom example, even if the victim “forgives” the criminal, there can never be the establishment or restoration of a relationship unless the criminal confesses his sin and actually seeks forgiveness.
The goal of biblical forgiveness is not only to benefit the victim but to restore the sinner.
A person should always be willing to forgive every time forgiveness is requested, as Jesus taught. It goes without saying that on some of those occasions the request may be insincere, or, even if sincere, the person will commit the same offense against us again at a later time. After all, isn’t this what we do to God, and isn’t that how He forgives us?
In some cases the one who has been sinned against is right to simply “let it go,” even if forgiveness has not been requested, and in other cases the one sinned against needs to wait until the offending party has confessed and asked for forgiveness, so that the relationship can be restored. This is the principle behind church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18:15–17. If the confrontation of the sinner brings about confession, then reconciliation and forgiveness are offered. If the confrontation is unsuccessful, excommunication from the church is the final result. As a general rule regarding petty slights and offenses in the family and in the church, a person should let them go or turn the other cheek,” as Jesus put it (Matthew 5:39). However, if the offense is such that turning the other cheek is not possible, the offended party is obligated to go talk to the offender about it. Under no circumstance does one have the right to harbor resentment, nurture bitterness, or gossip about the offense.
Here are some questions to ponder in relation to forgiveness:
• Have I confessed my sin and received God’s forgiveness?
• Is there anyone whom I have sinned against and from whom I need to ask forgiveness?
• Is there anyone who has sinned against me and has asked me for forgiveness, but I have refused to forgive?
• Is there anyone I am holding a grudge against for past wrongs?
• If there is an unresolved issue, will I simply “let it go,” or will I go talk to the offender about it? (Continuing to hold a grudge is not a biblical option!)
• Would I be willing to forgive if the offender asked me for forgiveness?
Some food for thought? Have you been offended by the attitudes and actions of others? Did you seek them out for a proper resolution of the matter?