How far will you go to forgive?

Perhaps the most beautiful picture that I can conjure up in my mind of Jesus is of Him on the cross, dying for my sins so that I can be forgiven. I know that the image that might pop up in your mind isn't so aesthetically pleasing, but all other images pale in comparison to the beauty of His act of sacrifice.

I love 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I love it because not only am I forgiven, but God through Jesus Christ has declared me clean. God is always faithful to forgive, He is always righteous in His forgiveness, and I am always clean when I confess and ask forgiveness. I carry no baggage when it comes to my sin.

I wish that the forgiveness of God would translate a little bit better into my life and the life of my fellow believers. When we read words like I have written above, we praise our Lord and Savior for His forgiveness and grace. We claim His forgiveness, we revel in it, we are relieved by it. But where believers (myself included) can get hung up is in our unwillingness to allow other people to be forgiven.

How often do we still hold peoples' sins against them, even if they are genuinely repentant and even if their sin isn't even against us? Let me give you an example. I am performing a wedding ceremony in a few months for a couple that had a child out of wedlock. As we met I found out from them that I was not their first choice of pastor for their ceremony. Another pastor turned them down because they had a child out of wedlock. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to step on anyone's personal convictions, but I see this as a unique opportunity for God to move in a powerful way. This couple has sought forgiveness. They do not currently live together. So in my opinion, if I to refuse to perform a Christ-centered marriage ceremony for them then it would communicate to them that even though God may have forgiven them, I certainly haven't. What an incredible opportunity to teach them what God says about marriage and to challenge them as a family to follow after His ways.

Why do we as followers of Christ refuse to allow ourselves to forgive as Christ forgave? I would imagine that some people might think that a refusal to condemn might be considered an act of condoning, but that was never how it was with Jesus. He would not condemn, He would offer forgiveness, yet He never, ever condoned sinful behavior. Instead, Jesus chose the better way of offering hope and restoration to those who repented of their wrongs. Shouldn't this be the model we follow instead of one that leaves Jesus out of the equation?


Sherry said...

I've heard it said that Christians are the only animals that try to kill their wounded.

Anonymous said...

Seems like Jesus said something about this a time or two...maybe even in this prayer that people recite a lot...something about forgive us as we forgive those who have trespasses against us...oh but who knows.


The honest hypocrite

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