The Art of Forgiveness (02)
The Art of Forgiveness (part 2)
Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Mark 11:25: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
We noted in our introduction last week that there is no more foundational pursuit in living as a Christian than receiving and conveying forgiveness (Mt. 5:23, 6:14, 18:1-35). Christ’s death was to provide the just basis for our forgiveness and to empower us to forgive others. The first three patterns in the art of forgiveness were established last week:
1) We must actively renew our minds in the foundation of forgiveness, Christ’s work for us.
2) We must become responsible for our own identity in Christ, knowing our acceptance in Christ
3) We must take the initiative to seek forgiveness from those whom we have legitimately offended, so that we have done all that we need for peace in Christ.
4) If we have been wronged, we must discern whether confrontation is necessary. There are only two kinds of "problems," either those we a) forgive without requiring further action, letting "love cover a multitude of sins" (1 Pt. 4:8); or b) those offenses in which we use the means of sequential, humble confrontation (Mt. 18:15ff) to give opportunity for the offender to make things right.
5) We must confront those who have sinned against us with humility, grace and faithfulness. This process is found in Matt. 18:15ff. “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you . . . ” This provides for the accountability of both the "accused" and the "accuser" to corrects factual errors and provide numerous opportunities for full reconciliation.
6) We must continually act, think and feel on the basis of the forgiveness that we have granted. Forgiveness (from the point of view of the person who has been sinned against) is a simple act of the will to grant freedom to another, such that the offender no longer owes a debt of action and the one granting forgiveness no longer has any claim on the offender. Yet, we must live through the one-time act of forgiving by regularly putting away, malice, regret, anxieties and anger relating to the person or situation.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more