When I talk to anyone about forgiveness I always tell them to read Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (ESV). Did you catch that, we are to forgive others as Christ Jesus the Lord has forgiven us.
Forgiving someone who has wronged us is not always the easiest thing to do. We know Jesus expects us to follow His example of grace and mercy by forgiving others; however, there are times forgiveness is the last thing on our minds.
Why is forgiveness so difficult? Dr Russell Moore answers this question in his blog entitled “What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t.” I hope this insightful article will help as you seek to show forth the forgiveness of Christ. Click this link to read Dr. Moore’s blog.
In our day, there is so much confusion about and baggage attached to “forgiveness.” At the beginning of this century, a Christianity Today editorial noted that some basic Christian virtues, like forgiveness, have “undergone a metamorphosis that makes them nearly unrecognizable.” With this one popular word, the zeitgeist tries to cover all the bases except for one. Reconciliation, a key companion to forgiveness, falls to the wayside, a victim in today’s therapeutic market.
The key context in Jesus’ admonition about “70 x 7” concerns our “brother.” He never tells us to forgive our enemies. He tells us to love them.
The oft quoted Scripture, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” is also ripped from its context and made the standard rule rather than the exception. Jesus does not know his executioners. They are simply fulfilling their civic duty in carrying out the commands of their superiors. He asks his Father to forgive them “on the grounds of their ignorance; their sin is unwitting–a motif familiar in Luke” (I. Howard Marshall, NIGTC).
And Jesus’ rebuke to Peter did not rest on future judgment. He had taught his disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute. The sword was not the way of His Kingdom. “They that live by the sword will die by the sword” was not a ‘just wait, they will get theirs in the end’ remark.
No, our problem with forgiveness is that we want it without repentance. We want therapy, not reconciliation.
Contrary to the spirit of our times, C.E.B. Cranfield notes that forgiveness and reconciliation “though distinguishable, are inseparable,” that forgiveness “necessarily involves reconciliation.” And in the gospel of cheap grace, that fragment of gospel that is missing Jesus’ teaching about repentance, that ain’t gonna happen.