Friday, March 21, 2008

To forgive is...

We can easily talk about being able to forgive others.
Someone apologizes and we tell them not to worry about it.
It's pretty easy.
For example, if someone hurts your children and later apologizes for it, its no big deal, cause you forgive them.
Or someone tortures you, and years later, they say that they are sorry. So its okay.
Because we can forgive so easily.
And if we mistreat someone and insult them, they forgive us so readily when we apologize.

I'm being completely satirical.
We suck at it. We can't even forgive people for being wrong about anything.
Some people don't believe that Jesus is God and we say, "Well, sorry, but they are going to hell."
Maybe.

But that isn't my point.
We just really don't understand forgiveness.
God forgives us as we forgive others.
If we don't forgive, you can find verses about how God will forgive you.
(part of the journey is discovering the path, go look)

And if you think some are not worth forgiving.
Think about how tough it is to forgive someone who picks on the innocent.
Jesus was pretty doggone innocent.
And yet people tortured Him.
And people hurt His children.
And when you do something to the least of people, you do it to Him.
At least that is what He says.

And remember, when people tortured the most innocent person I know of, He forgave them.
As He was hanging on a cross and bleeding out His life, He didn't rail on them or condemn them.
He didn't jump down from the cross and fight for His life.
(the scary part is that I believe He still could have)
Instead, He looked down on those who mistreated Him and all His creation, and looked on them with pity.
He knew they weren't following the Way.
They might have been followers of Moloch, and killed their own children.
And He looked out at those people, and He asked God to forgive them.
Why?
Because they didn't know what they were doing.

Some of us get upset with others because they are misguided and think they are unforgivable.
Jesus didn't forgive them because they asked.
Jesus didn't forgive them because they would necessarily receive it.
He forgave them in the hopes that they would receive it.

Forgiveness is something we should do.
Even when others don't deserve it or want it.
Jesus did it.
Can you?

42 comments:

Nator said...

Amen. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. Especially when you feel like you have been wronged. Yet we are called to forgive, just like we have been forgiven. Let us all follow that example.

Geppy said...

Amen duck man.

Wonder Woman said...

"To err is human. To forgive is divine."

I agree it's one of the trickiest things to do. However, if I can paint the saying above on an entire wall in my home, I can keep on trying... One day I may even get it right ;-P

Peace Out Duckie Poo!

Timm said...

Very well said Roland. A testement to the human condition. How I wish I could forgive like Jesus did. That's what I yearn for but fear I will never reach.

Thanks for the words.

WayneDawg said...

Happy Substitutionary Atonement day folks!!

Looking forward to Resurrection Day here in North Georgia on Sunday.

God bless you all!!

Craig said...

Roland,

I like this post on forgiveness. As you stated Jesus showed the best example of forgiveness.

Can you expound on this statement?

"God forgives us as we forgive others."

Are you referencing Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

This is an interesting passage. Are you suggesting that someone can become unjustified?

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

Craig,

Not to answer for Roland, but how can you confuse the fact that we don't deserve forgiveness, yet it is a gift, with the possiblity of it being unjustified? The whole point is that it is an unearned, freely given gift of grace! It's offered before it's even asked for! Justification was never mentioned!

Timm said...

I don't want to speak for Craig but I think the question is this: if I, as a beleive, were to hold a grudge and not forgive some one, would God revoke my forgiveness?

That seems to be the implication of a statement like "God forgives as we forgive others." If we lose our forgiveness, we become unjustified.

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

Timm,

Your response was:

I think the question is this: if I, as a beleive, were to hold a grudge and not forgive some one, would God revoke my forgiveness?

Would that not mean that our forgiveness is contingent on our works? We are forgiven out of grace, not what we do. We may be "given a dose of our own medicine" as a learning experience, but if we are saved by grace, why would he revoke it for not getting it "just right"? After all, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That's not a license to go out and beat people up emotionally and spiritually in "the name of love." It seems more an admonishment to not be self-righteous, but emapathic. We are not to beat others over the head, but guide them to an epiphany of their own wrongdoing.

All of that said, I realize there is a matter of whether or not you view the bible as being inerrant or inspired.

How do you view it?

Timm said...

The Bible is inerrant.

I agree with everything you just said. I'm simply wondering what Rolands intention was for posting that part of the message. Are we to beleive the God literally will not forgive us unless we forgive others, or should we forgive because God is loving enough to forgive us when we don't deserve it? It it's the former, you and I are probably in big trouble.

Craig said...

Key West Butterfly Girl,

I agree with you that forgiveness is a gift that we don't deserve. I also agree that our salvation is not contingent upon our works. My last post was an attempt to better understand Roland's statement. I believe the Bible in inerrant and that upon accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior one is justified. I was just curious of Roland's position because of his statement. I guess I should have been more detailed in my question. I was just talking about asking forgiveness regularly on another blog and was putting my thoughts together on both blogs.

Timm,
You understood exactly what I meant. I guess it was like that whole super mario brothers/ mushroom thing all over again.

Roland said...

KWBG did a good job of explaining.
I'm definitely thinking of the verses you listed Craig.
But if God says your in His family, just trust Him.
None of us forgives perfectly, but it is something that is worth striving for.
I don't forgive perfectly.
None of us do.
So as we don't beat ourselves up for it, we shouldn't do it to others either.
Am I making sense?

Nator said...

Not to make a mess of this thread, but I need more clarification. If the Bible is inerrant how can you read Matthew 6:14-15 as anything but litteral?

Roland said...

Part of a footnote in one Bible I own.
"Because when we don't forgive others, we are denying our common ground as sinners in need of God's forgiveness. God's forgiveness of sin is not the direct result of our forgiving others, but it is based on our relizing what forgiveness means (see Ephesians 4:32) It's easy to ask God for forgiveness but difficult to grant it to others. Whenever we ask God to forgive us for sin, we should ask, 'Have I forgiven the people who have wronged me?'"
Reading Ephesians 4:32 helps to clarify it more.
But when people don't believe in God, is that sin against us?
Or is that something that God Himself needs to take care of because it's against Him?

MikeT said...

Forgiveness is indeed the hardest thing for us to do.

However, don't forget that your forgiveness is not always enough to undo what someone has done to those around you. If someone murders your child in cold blood, your forgiveness is not enough to right the scales of justice, even if they are repentant because grace does not cover temporal justice. While you are obligated to forgive them, the state is under a mandate from God to pursue justice per Romans 13, irrespective of the victim's forgiveness.

MikeT said...

I'd also submit that if someone committed a truly heinous crime, and was genuinely repentant and solicitous of forgiveness from their victims, that they would submit themselves to the punishment that they were sentenced to by the state.

Roland said...

Mike,
Very good points.
But, due the fact that we are still human, I don't think we would always accept that punishment.
In a perfect world, yes.
But since when is this a perfect world...

Craig said...

Nator,

I would point out John 13:10 "Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."

Justification at the point of salvation is the bath. Repenting and asking for forgiveness regularly is to wash your feet. To imply that we needed to be justified every time we sin and ask for forgiveness would mean we would be receiving salvation again and again over and over, which does not correlate with an inerrant Bible.

Craig said...

Mike T

Good point. I would like to ask now what if someone is NOT sorrowful when they wrong you?

Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

I don't believe this, but could someone make a legitimate argument to only forgive when asked?

MikeT said...

I don't think so because our forgiveness comes from grace, not works, and our forgiveness is a work. I think it's a matter of if you don't forgive someone of their sins against you, then you can count on God not forgiving you with respect to his judgment of the believers.

The believers will face God's judgment too, but the result will not be damnation or salvation, but rather your position in the pecking order in heaven. Technically, a believer can have a major problem with sin, including not forgiving much, and be fine in terms of salvation, but they will live as a poor man in heaven when God is assigning rewards and such for the believers based on how they used this life.

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

Whoa! Time out! There's a pecking order in heaven? What is that based on? I have NEVER heard anything like that!

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

Guys, please forgive me for backtracking, but I don't get on the computer that often . . .

Timm, this is directed to you. Anyone is welcome to respond, but now I am left wondering, hmmmm.

You said:
"The Bible is inerrant.

I agree with everything you just said. I'm simply wondering what Roland's intention was for posting that part of the message. Are we to believe that God literally will not forgive us unless we forgive others, or should we forgive because God is loving enough to forgive us when we don't deserve it? If it's the former, you and I are probably in big trouble."

PLEASE,don't be defensive. This is an honest question. I was not a religion major, but I did take enough religion classes to have a minor at the least. My husband has a Master's in Religion and, believe me, I had equal play in the earning of that degree!

That is not to say I'm some sort of expert. I'll be the first to say I'm not, but I'm not ignorant, either. What confuses me is this:

What I was taught by several of my religion professors (not to mention my parents) is that the inerrancy of the Bible means you COMPLETELY take it at its word. Every single word is directly given by God. Your response to me has me perplexed. If you believe the Bible is inerrant, how can you not take it literally? It seems to me you have interpreted the message of the story, but not taken it literally. If you did, as you said, "we would both be in trouble."

Would you please clarify? I am intrigued to say the least.

Roland said...

I'll stop by and comment more later tonight.
Am visiting my folks.
:)

Timm said...

I will probably post a longer answer to your question on Monday, when I can get to my computer, but my short answer is this:

Yes, I believe the Bible is inerrant. But it appears you and I have different definitions of that idea. I believe the Bible is written by God. I DO NOT believe that means I have to take every word litterally.

The idea that we are forgiven if and only if we forgive all others who trespass against us contridicts a clear teaching of the Bible. (Our sins are forgiven at the point of conversion. Past present and future.) So there simply must be another explaination for this passage.

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I've never looked too in depth into this passage. Isnt it possible that Jesus was simply telling us that we should try to forgive just like the Father forgave us?

I think it might also be possible that God threatening to chasten his followers who do not forgive others. That is to say that if I want God to "overlook" my day to day shortfalls, I should forgive others in hopes that he will forgive me as well.

I'm going to study this tonight now. :)

P.S. I wasn't getting defensive. ;)

Timm said...

I actually really like what Craig said. The forgiveness we are talking about in Matthew 6 is the daily washing of feet. Not the full body cleansing that comes with our salvation. Its washing away our daily transgressions so that God might not "chasten" us for them.

Nator said...

Ok, another question. If the Bible is inerrant, and we don't have to take every word literally, then is the Genesis account of creation to be taken literaly?

MikeT said...

Key west butterfly girl,

Why does it surprise you that there is a sort of pecking order in heaven? If there wasn't one, then why would Jesus make references "to he who is greatest in heaven" or "the least of the kingdom of heaven is greater than..." if everyone is entirely equally in heaven?

Furthermore, Paul says that the works of the believers will be judged:

"12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

Again, we are rewarded based on what we do in this life. Some will be greater than others in their rewards. There is no government in heaven aside from God's absolute monarchy, but there is a social hierarchy based on the parable of the talents.

Most of us will end up probably not receiving a whole lot when our lives are put before God's judgment. That's fine by me, as I am just happy to not burn in hell. Accuse me of low expectations, but I have always had, and still do, have a hard time kicking sinful habits, so I go to death eventually with no expectations other than salvation :)

Having dealt with a lot of arrogant pseudo-intellectuals all my life, it does give me a snicker to think that "common men" like the pastor of my wife's family's church will end up being richly rewarded while all of those smug jackasses will have to eat crow, assuming they make it at all.

MikeT said...


Ok, another question. If the Bible is inerrant, and we don't have to take every word literally, then is the Genesis account of creation to be taken literaly?


Who knows? Your question does not naturally follow from the statement of fact that precedes it. Inerrancy and literalism are two separate things. It is possible for the story of Genesis to be both metaphorical and true while the majority of the Bible is literal and true. Genesis does not give us any indication of a number of things, like what forces were operating on the Earth in the days of creation. How do we know the Earth had actually started to rotate around its axis during the first few days? If it hadn't, the meaning of a single day is entirely variable and arbitrary. It could be 24 hours, it could be 240,000,000 Earth days as we now know them.

I happen to take Vox Day's attitude toward it. I know the Bible is entirely true, and its truthfulness is not dependent on my understanding of the exact mechanisms of how God did things.

Linda said...

Here is an excerpt by John Piper about this issue from a sermon called "As We Forgive Our Debtors"
"The point of Matthew 6:15 and 18:35 is that if we hold fast to an unforgiving spirit we will be handed over to the tormentors. We will lose heaven and gain hell. The reason is not because we can earn heaven or merit heaven by forgiving others, but because holding fast to an unforgiving spirit proves that we do not trust Christ. If we trust him we will not spurn his way of life. If we trust him we will not be able to take forgiveness from his hand for our million dollar debt and withhold it from our ten dollar debtor."

You can read the entire sermon at desiringgod.org, the sermon is titled "As We Forgive Our Debtors"

Linda said...

miket - the Bible also says the first will be last and the last will be first which means there is no first or last in heaven, or no pecking order in heaven

Nator said...

Miket said,:

"How do we know the Earth had actually started to rotate around its axis during the first few days? If it hadn't, the meaning of a single day is entirely variable and arbitrary. It could be 24 hours, it could be 240,000,000 Earth days as we now know them."

Mike that is probably the most intelligent thing I have heard (read) you say! :") I guess your definition of inerrancy and that of others doesn't agreee with each other. I have heard other people say because the Bible is inerrant then we have to take it literally. The Matthew verse is a perfect example of why this shouldn't be so.

Another comment will follow.

Nator said...

As far as there being a pecking order in Heaven, read Matthew 20:1-15. If this isn't a parable about Heaven, what is it about?

Linda said...

miket- the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 does not prove a hierarchy in heaven. Both the man with 5 and the man with 2 talents double the talents given and both are told "I will put you in charge of many things", it does not distinguish that one got more than the other in heaven. Whereas the man with one talent buried the talent and was "thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." In others words he went to hell.

Roland said...

I would point out John 13:10 "Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
I've heard that applied to the fact that all of the disciples were clean, except Judas. But then again, I haven't studied it in depth lately. Maybe its both. Either way, it just goes to show that we are required to interpret the scriptures. All of us.

As far as there being a pecking order in Heaven, read Matthew 20:1-15. If this isn't a parable about Heaven, what is it about?
I've heard some say that it applies to us getting in. And that's where they leave it.
It's a tough question.

I hadn't realized that us forgiving others would so affect our view of whether or not we get into heaven.
Isn't it odd that whenever we try to focus on what we should do for others, that we always seem to turn it around to look at ourselves.
I'm just as guilty as everyone else.

And I'm more with Timm on the Bible. God set it up to be there for us, just like He wanted it to be. And we can take it very literally. Too literally. So literally that we forget the big picture and quibble about little bits here and there.
We keep noticing all the trees and forget we are in a forest.

How literally do you interpret Revelation?
Should we all be single and populate the earth?
When Paul talks about being out of his mind for saying something, is he out of his mind, or God's mind, or is God out of Paul's mind, or is God out of his own mind?
Taken literally, it gets funny.
Because we tend to be too exacting in what we see and forget the paradoxes that are in scripture.
We can't explain it all, for only God is God.
We can do the best we can with what we have.
The words of God are difficult to fathom when we have them right in front of us.
Every time we read them we notice a new subtleness or nuance.
Its amazing.

Roland said...

I think the parable in Matthew 18 fits better than the one in Matthew 25. But that is another story.
Mt 18:35 is pretty stern.
What does God mean when he says that?
Because God has forgiven all of our sins, even though we didn't deserve it, we shouldn't withhold that same forgiveness from others.
That attitude should grow in us as we walk with Him.
When we don't forgive others, it may be that we are setting ourselves above Christ's love.

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

Timm,

Thanks for responding! It seems to me that we have similar ideas and thoughts, the semantics of particular terms are a little different. Interesting how life experience gives us all assumptions that are never a safe approach to understanding others!

P.S. You weren't defensive in the least. I simply don't care to push anyone into a corner. Thanks for the candor!


MikeT,

As far as a pecking order in heaven, your scriptures didn't help me much. The parable of the talants is the key scripture to my entire career, but I don't take it to have any implications about a pecking order in heaven. To me, it's all about the gifts God has given you. To some, God has given MANY. To some, God has given several. To others, God has given few. We are challenged to be good stewards of what He has gifted us with. Just because you are given less does not mean you cannot be an exceptional steward. Nor does it mean that if you have been given much you are favored. Actually, you have a greater responsibility (and temptation) with the abundance that has been given to you.

Does that make sense?

MikeT said...

the Bible also says the first will be last and the last will be first which means there is no first or last in heaven, or no pecking order in heaven

That's referring to the righteous and unrighteous on Earth, not in heaven. It means that some of the worst people on Earth will receive the Gospel, be saved, and end up greater than all of the people who are "righteous by their own works."

it does not distinguish that one got more than the other in heaven.

I notice that you and Key West Butterfly Girl have been ignoring my reference to 1 Corinthians which says that God will judge your life, and reward you based on how you lived.

As I said, there is no political hierarchy or anything of that nature, but we are not going to be equal in how God rewards us.

You are reading too much into this, I think.

Roland said...

MikeT,
How kind of you to say that I or KWBG were ignoring your references. ;)
Truth is, I am dialoguing about the subject. But since you want a take on them, let's do that.
1 Cor 3:11-15 (or further if you wish it); my take. :)
There is not a "this person is saved more than that person" mentality in this passage.
There is an exhortation to go out and do things which back up the faith one professes.
Both are saved. One just did more things that were of lasting importance.
Does this make one better than the other?
More equipped, I'd venture to say, but not better. Pride leads to a fall.
Is Paul better equipped to go and witness to people who have never heard the gospel than I am?
I'm pretty sure he is.
But as he said about the other apostles, "They added nothing to me."
I could say the same about him.
(*gasp* - blasphemy!)
Not that Paul and I couldn't sit together and talk and both benefit from it.
Paul saw that it comes from a higher source.
I just happen to agree with him. :)

A final thought:
Eph. 6:9
Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.
Col 3:25
But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.
Gal 2:6
And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.)
1 Peter 1:17-25
17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.
21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.
22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.[d] Love each other deeply with all your heart.[e]
23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,
“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.”[f]
And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

- It isn't about the works we do. It's about what we do with this Good News we have been given. Have you accepted it or not?
To be honest, I believe that I still do things that won't last. Does it make Paul or Peter more rewarded than me?
Maybe.
But what greater reward than spending a life in eternity with our Father is there?
I think you're looking at it from a different viewpoint than I am.
That's all.

Linda said...

If anybody is interested in learning more about the parable of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20 there is a good audio sermon at
sermonaudio.com by Henry Mahan titled "The First Shall Be Last" justifying there is no "pecking order" in heaven.

Roland said...

Linda,
You should start your own blog.
I would be definitely come and read it.
Could you sum it up the link you provided for us?
I'm going to be busy this week.
But could you give me a teaser or something to pique my interest further.?

Linda said...

Roland - basically the vineyard parable in Matthew 20 can only be understood rightly if you read Matthew 19 first. The parable is saying that it is all of God's grace and God will save anybody he chooses and when he wants to. God decides what is the right payment and he pays everybody the same and this is referring to heaven and the lack of differences of rewards in heaven. The audio sermon website is a Calvinist website and by now you might of figured I am a Calvinist, if you are an Arminian you will not understand most of Jesus's parables the same way a Calvinist does. Nobody should be thinking they deserve anything special in heaven since everything (salvation, their abilities, money, circumstance, etc.) is from God.

Key West Butterfly Girl said...

MikeT,

I realize you may never read this, for this posting has become dated, but I apologize for "ignoring" the following scripture,

"12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

I did so because I agree with the scripture. Once again, we have a bit of a disagreement on the intention of the scripture. When I read it, I interpret it to be yet another admonishment regarding the stewardship of our gifts. I see no hierarchy for how good a Christian we are while we are here on Earth.

I guess we can agree to disagree.