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Forgiveness and Endurance

May 8, 2018

One of the greatest wrenches in the act of forgiveness is when those that have wronged us do not feel any need to confess to their wrongdoing.  There is no desire to repent of whatever wrong they have done and in turn reconciliation and renewal cannot take place.[1]  So what are we to do?

 

True Forgiveness

Unknown by many is that true forgiveness involves two people.  A Christ-centered definition of forgiveness could be stated as: the action of sought out repentance for a wrong toward another person and the wronged person granting mercy toward the failure.

 

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 

–Luke 17:3

 

“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 

–Matt. 6:12

 

True forgiveness involves a wronged individual showing mercy toward the person that has admitted to their wrong.  Is this not a part of our very salvation?  Constantly Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers push man to repent of their sins in response to the faith that they have received.[2]

So how serious is forgiveness in the eyes of God?  We find out immediately following the Lord’s Prayer.

 

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” 

-Matthew 6:14-15

 

If this is not a radical command from Jesus for His people, you have never had to forgive anyone of a major wrong.  If someone comes to you and repents of their failures toward you and you do not show them grace then there is reason to believe that you have never repented to God.

 

But you go, “Pastor, you don’t know what they did!”  “The amount of pain is unimaginable.”  “He stole from me something I can never get back.”  “She destroyed my childhood and my future.”

 

You, Christian, are commanded to forgive those who repent to you.  Jesus says, "You must forgive," when they come to you in repentance.  How is this possible?  If you truly believe that you serve a God who wholeheartedly seeks out reconciliation with His creation, then you serve a God who is a forgiving God to those who do not deserve it.  Forgiving others of unforgiveable acts may be one of the biggest reflections of God’s nature that we ever exemplify to our world.  This begins to show us that the extent to which we forgive others reflects how much we need and trust God.

Forgiving others of unforgiveable acts may be one of the biggest reflections of God’s nature that we ever exemplify to our world.

When They Don’t Repent

But what if someone commits a wrong against us and does not repent of their wrong nor care too?  This is the wrench in the act of true forgiveness because forgiveness involves two people.  So what are we to do?  Peter lays out our model.

 

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

-1 Peter 2:21-23

 

Before anything we need to examine and see if what someone did is truly wrong.

Now, there is hopefully agreement that acts such as lying, murder, stealing, mocking, hating, stabbing people in the back, adultery, and other sins of the like are wrong and demand repentance from those who do such acts.  But there is a group of people that believe they need people to repent to them when they have never truly been wronged.  This is found in people who build up false notions where they think that they need to be repented toward.

 

1. “He committed no sin”

Jesus never committed any sins yet the Pharisee’s constantly called him out for breaking the traditions of the elders.  Yet nowhere do we see Jesus repent to the Pharisees for “wronging” them.  He didn’t repent because He never sinned.  Just because you are offended does not mean that you have been wronged 

 

2. “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return”

When we endure sorrows while suffering in the midst of unjust treatment, this is a gracious thing?  How can Peter say such a thing?  Simply put, he saw what the effects of this principle in the life of Jesus.  When the crowd tried to stone Him He didn’t pick up rocks in return.  Likewise when those who do have wronged us have no desire to repent of their wrong we do not go forward in hatred and bitterness.  Do you think that all of the men who sentenced Jesus and put the nails in His hands came to His apostles later and asked for forgiveness?  Not likely.  Yet Jesus still did not revile in return.

Do you think that all of the men who sentenced Jesus and put the nails in His hands came to His apostles later and asked for forgiveness?

3. “Entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.”

Jesus died with a purpose in mind and it was to offer grace to sinners so that God could be glorified through them.  Those who are his children are His children due to their faith, which has, lead them to repent of their sins.  He has the power to forgive as well as judge all sin that is not dipped in the blood of the Lamb.  And Jesus will judge.  So the wrongs that we have encountered can be handed over to Jesus as the ultimate and final judge of the matter.  Let us be sure that we are indeed washed and let Jesus handle the rest.[3]

 

Endure

This is the biblical model for endurance and this is how we are to apply Jesus’s model to our lives.

1. Make sure we have not contributed to the wrong we have received to make us deserve the wrong.

2. When we receive sorrow or are wronged we do not respond in the same manner.

3. We trust in the judgment of God who is just, eternally.

 

“When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;”

-1 Cor. 4:12

 

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,“

-Matt. 5:43-44

 

This is how you and I are to endure.  Jesus also suffered among people who never asked for His mercy.  When those who have wronged us do not confess to their wrong, endure as Jesus endures.  Trust the judgment of God for the sins committed against you and do not let the bitterness control your life.  Responding in hatred toward them will not show how gracious of a God you serve.  Maybe God is working in the one who has wronged you and in time God will bring about forgiveness in your relationship so that a relationship with a friend, a family member, or co-worker can be repaired.  How marvelous this would be!  But if not, Christian, endure.

 

 

Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls.  Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world.  And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.

 

Notes                        

[1] Acts 3:19-20

[2] Mrk. 1:15, Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, 2 Cor. 7:10, Rev. 16:9

[3] It is important to note that what is being stated does not fit into the context of passivism in the midst of injustice.  This is not the central goal in this article.  The goal of this article is spiritual side of forgiveness that pushes us to endure through the injustice that we have received throughout our lives when those who wrong us do not repent.

 

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