Questions & Answers
I'm dealing with a forgiveness issue
I'm dealing with a forgiveness issue. When I consider what Christ has done for ME, how can I *NOT* 'forgive' others? OK, but this sounds like I am to be in an auto forgiving (grant forgiveness regardless) with people who have deeply offended me. My SS states the 1 john 1:9 is a template that we should use for others. If people ask ME for forgiveness THEM, then I am to freely give it. But ONLY when asked. If not asked, then go to Math 18 for a continuing resolution. The SS teacher states that if we grant forgivess, especially when other person just doesn't see his offense, then we are, in a sense, letting the other person off the hook for what God might be trying to teach that individual. Of course I can't play Holy Spirit, but I lean towards the notion to let curcumstances take her course and let God deal with people in His way. On the other hand, Math 18:21,22 says "Until seventy times seven" (which more or less implies a continual attitude and act on MY part without ever a confessional part coming from him). ThanksWayne
Hello Wayne, thanks for writing with these thoughtful questions!
I'm dealing with a forgiveness issue.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say this in a condescending way, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m thinking you might be dealing with a technical religious issue that has masked itself as a forgiveness issue. I suggest this because it is exactly what I used to struggle with ... and sometimes still do. You see, you do sense the simple & miraculous truth when you consider what Christ has done for you ... but then those little religious technicalities (like the 1 John 1:9 "template") kick in and erode the reality that seems so impossible to live with.
WE'RE the ones who demand that forgiveness has to be asked for in order to be received, but God is the one who gave freely when we were unable to do anything, including begging. If God let us off the hook in Christ why do we think we need to keep others on that hook? The truth of the matter is that those who offend us have been struggling with that hook they wish they could free themselves from - believer or not.
I think the biggest cog in the wheel here is that we have also assumed that forgiveness is the doing of something ... instead of just the opposite. It takes incredible conscious energy and persistence to continually persuade ourselves that we have a right to hold an evil against another while at the same time working so hard justifying our own evils. Are you following me here? We have gotten so used to the justifying and/or condemning self-talk going on in a million and one ways that we overlook the unbelievable manipulation it takes to perform it.
Forgiveness is a miraculous release given by God. No, not just the fact that God no longer holds my sins against me, but has also taken every other sin out of the way so there is nothing left for me to hold against another. To know Christ's love for me and not to see this is to live as insane.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Though we often consider this as being a "difficult" way to live do you notice the LACK of effort in the way Paul described this new view in Christ? I can tell that you know this miraculously within you by the way you explained your thoughts in your email:
When I consider what Christ has done for ME, how can I *NOT* 'forgive' others?...but I lean towards the notion to ... let God deal with people in His way...(which more or less implies a continual attitude and act on MY part without ever a confessional part coming from him)
Scrap those templates and formulas - they were never meant as such anyway (at least those written by Jesus' followers). They cannot ever "work", for they only produce a forgiveness that can be rescinded at a later time. What good is that? It is ONLY in viewing yourself and those around you according to the mind of the world that it makes "sense" to hold offense again another. Let THIS mind - CHRIST - be the one that convinces you of the reality that you are a new creation.
Consider also, that when Peter asked Jesus "Should I forgive my brother up to 7 times?" he was simply trying to formulate this "forgiveness" into terms he could deal with. I suppose he thought Jesus might even be impressed with such "divine" generosity implied by using the number "7" (as it was a very powerful number in the Jewish mind of divine completeness). Jesus made Peter's "generosity" pale as an achievable goal when he stated, "No, I say to you SEVENTY TIMES seven!" Yep, Peter could have handled 7 times, but Jesus blew it away with his absurd multiplier. Forgiveness is not an achievable goal, it is a miraculous reality in Christ.