For it seems to me you only pardon the sins you don’t really think sinful.
(Note: This is an apology and an explanation. Today’s post is a long one and I am sorry. However, I believe it is valuable. God was gracious to me and I need to share what He gave me. So I split it into two posts. Here is the first.)
I always seem to be reading authors who were at one time quite popular, who have fallen by the present wayside. George MacDonald, as I explained in another post, was a writer that very few could match today. His view of Christianity, especially Christian charity, would leave most Christians with heads bowed in shame. I know mine was.
For today’s seed we have a quote from GK Chesterton.
*As an aside, I don’t specifically seek out obscure quotes, but I do read some unconventional literature. It just seems to me the best literature ran its course a little over a century ago. Not that books written since have no value; it’s just that people, authors, used to have a style that seems to be missing today.
Back to Chesterton…
At one time he was probably the most famous Brit in the isles. He was pretty well known in the States too. Chesterton was a newspaperman, a writer, a political commentator (long before Fox News, CNN and those lesser channels) and many other things. He was a prodigy whose every written word was read on two continents. And now he is known by few, but he is chiefly unknown.
He truly was a great writer even though most of the world has forgotten him. He inspired much of the political commentary spoken today; he also inspired writers like Agatha Christy and Philip Marlowe. How? With a series of short stories called “The Father Brown Mysteries”. If you like mysteries, you need to read them. It is from one of the Father Brown stories that the seed comes.
Now, after 300 words of introduction, we get down to the crux of today’s post.
Some questions: I wonder how many truly grasp the significance of forgiveness in our lives? I wonder if we really understand what it is? I also wonder if we see it as Christ does? I’ll take each of those “wonder’s” separately, but I’ll answer them with a qualified, I doubt it.
- How many understand the importance of forgiveness to our lives?
I would say that most Christians have heard, at one time or another, a sermon based on forgiveness. I just heard one a couple of Sundays ago myself. It was the usual great effort by Brother John. He was right on point. The sermon itself was wrapped around a personal story he told the congregation; something he had been through that he had to forgive.
But, a question…Why did he HAVE to forgive?
Not for the other person involved surely. How often does the person we forgive know we forgave them? Better yet, how often do they acknowledge that they need forgiveness? Not very (often…that is – to borrow from Foghorn Leghorn).
The purpose of forgiveness is not so you can say with humility (or pride, the antonym of humility), I forgive you; it’s so you can move on. Unless you forgive, it eats at you; it festers and makes you bitter.
So, the act of forgiveness is not for the person being forgiven, but for the person who is doing the forgiving. It’s one of the many paradoxes God commands us to live by. This Christian life is a quandary!
That answers the first question, what about the second?
- Do we understand forgiveness?
I think most people have already heard that forgiveness is for the one doing the forgiving, but how well do we understand the act? How long is forgiveness? Is forgiveness an act of present significance? Does it really matter if we forgive?
How long, or maybe it’s better to ask, how much or far is forgiveness? Peter, who will be a part of this post in a couple of places, liked to be bold. In Matthew 18:21 he asked a question of Jesus. In essence, should I be generous and forgive my brother seven times if he sins against me? Christ’s answer, No…but up to seventy times seven (18:22). He meant forever (if you doubt the forever-ness of the seventy times seven, just read the parable that comes after in Matthew 18:23-34). The same message is contained in Psalm 103:12 which says, As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. How long, much or far should our forgiveness be…forever; never to be recalled again.
Is forgiveness an act of present significance? Yes, as we talked about before, but not primarily. It’s a future act. Since we know nothing in the past really matters (unless we forget it of course), it’s unnecessary to ask whether forgiveness is a past act. In the present, we are forgiven and we are to forgive. But why are we to forgive? Because Christ first forgave us so that we could enjoy a future. Without forgiveness we have no future. We forgive, as Christ forgave, because we want others to have a future also. But now we are delving into the third major question.
Does it really matter if we forgive? That’s an easy one: yes, on many levels. But let’s just say it matters because we are showing the same thing we were shown, as I said above.
But let’s get to what really matters; namely…
Tomorrow: part two.