The Art of Forgiveness

Recently I have been spending a lot of time thinking about forgiveness.  Part of the reason is because I am leading a combined Sunday morning Bible Study through The Peacemaking Church small group material, this material discusses biblical conflict resolution.  This last week we covered lesson 7 and the key principle was, “Our forgiveness shows what we think of God’s forgiveness.”  During this discussion I also showed the Nooma video entitled Luggage.

And then today I read the parable of The Unforgiving Servant(Mt. 18:21-35).  At the conclusion of this parable Jesus says, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” 

Jesus took forgiveness seriously.  It was an expectation that one person forgive another no questions asked.  Today forgiveness is hoarded.  We only give forgiveness to those we only care about.  We withhold forgiveness from whomever we want.  What if forgiveness is not ours to keep. 

If our forgiveness shows what we think of God’s forgiveness then what does it say when we choose not to forgive.  When we deliberately and willfully refuse to give to someone what God has given them and us.  Are we more wise than God? 

I wonder if we should consider “forgiveness” as less of an action and more of a character trait.  I know people that hold grudges, and keep running records of wrongs done against them and I view that as a character flaw.  I also know people that are willing to forgive and not hold it against another and see that as a great character trait. 

But why is it so hard to forgive then?  Maybe it is because we have this sense of entitlement, that says, you better not wrong me.  If you wrong me then I may or may not forgive you.  But that is holding someone else to a standard; we ourselves can not live up to.  I am sure that I wrong people everyday, and I want them to forgive me.  But then I turn around and won’t do the same.  Who am I?

 

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One thought on “The Art of Forgiveness

  1. Ben,
    I wouuld highly recommend Miroslav Volf’s EXCLUSION AND EMBRACE on this topic. It completely changed my understanding of godly forgiveness and how to work toward the redemption of our enemies and those who have wronged us.
    He’s a great NT scholar and this is probably one of my favorite books ever.

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