Psalms 55, 74
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
I chose today’s reading from 2 Corinthians to write about. I think that forgiveness is one of the most difficult things we, as Christians, are called to do. In 2 Corinthians 2:7, Paul instructs his readers to forgive and comfort the sinner “so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” He is instructing us not to forgive this person for our sake, but for the sinner’s sake.
Many times, if not most times, when we forgive somebody of something we do it, frankly, out of self-righteousness. I can almost hear the speeches I give myself in my head “Okay, fine, I’ll forgive them, but only because I’m supposed to.” But, where is the love in that?
So, what does forgiveness really mean for a Christian? In Matthew 6:14, Jesus says “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” In Mark 11:25, Jesus tells us “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” In Colossians 3:13, we are told to “[f]orgive as the Lord forgave you.” In Ephesians 5:32, we are told to “[b]e kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
These passages tell me that we are not only called to forgive, we are called to forgive as Jesus forgave us. How did Jesus forgive us? He forgave us by giving His life to save ours.
I can tell you that I have never forgiven anyone to that extent. As much as I say I have forgiven and forgotten someone’s transgression against me, I have never loved them as Jesus loves me. I think love is a very touchy subject for most if not all of us. I think most of us want to love with the abandon of Jesus. But, we just can’t bring ourselves to forgive others to the extent of truly loving them. I can tell you the reason I have a hard time doing this is the fear that I will be hurt again by that same person. So, I forgive them conditionally. That way I can tell myself that I really wasn’t a fool by forgiving them and then falling prey to their hurts again.
But, that’s exactly what Jesus did. He went into the viper’s den many times before they caught him and crucified him, all the while knowing exactly what was going to happen. Can I do that for you? Could you do it for me?