Forgiveness – Part 1
By Dennis Huebshman
Matthew 18: 21-22, Peter asked the Savior if he should forgive his brother 7 times. He actually thought he was being very generous. Jesus answered, “70 times 7”. This does not mean 490, by the way, but actually is supposed to be an infinite number. Could you just imagine God saying, “Oops! You’ve reached 490 so into the fire with you!” Doesn’t work that way, and thankfully so or I would’ve been over that limit decades ago.
By saying you must forgive those who’ve wronged you does not mean you have to accept the “wrong” done to you. You just have to forgive the one(s) that did the wrong(s). A great example today is the young lady that told the Olympic physician in court recently all that he did to her and others in his career of sexual assault. She told him exactly about all the harm he had done especially to her. However, at the end, she said she forgave him. That took real courage.
God is willing to forgive ANYONE. This means if Hitler, Mussolini, Osama Bin Laden and others had repented – truly repented – before they died, they will be with the Savior today. Hard to believe, but remember, God is no respecter of persons
Paul said ALL have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). If God wanted to, He could condemn all of us to the Hell Fires!
Does forgiveness mean you have to trust the wrongdoer? NOT! A person can forgive a child abuser or someone who has committed serious sexual assault as shown above for example, but that does not mean that person must trust the abuser again. You are expected to Love that person though.
So, let’s cover what type of Love we’re talking about here. This is not the type of love that is shown in a parent-child; husband-wife; boyfriend-girlfriend type relationship. This is a “Creator-type” love in that God loves ALL His creation and expects us to do the same. Does this mean He will tolerate anything? Think of Sodom/Gomorrah; Babylonian Captivity just as two examples. Had there been repentance before these took place, they would not have happened. In Sodom, all that was needed were 10 righteous souls to save the city. What about Nineveh spoken of in Jonah? They repented and were spared. Later – within a couple hundred years – they went back to their old ways and were destroyed.
Jesus gave us two GREATEST commandments:
(Luke 10:27) Love God; Love each other. Of course, this is paraphrased, but you can get the gist.
We are to love people for their souls. Judgment of their souls is not our problem. One of the most abused lines in the Bible is “Judge Not!” Matthew 7:2 is always put in the wrong context. We are not to Judge Men’s Souls, that’s God’s job. We are to judge their actions. If a person commits murder, we can say the action was wrong and be Biblically correct. To say the murderer cannot be forgiven is wrong. Also, we do not have to “tolerate” known sin or take part in it. We just don’t get to judge anyone else’s soul.
Corrie Ten Boom gave a very good example of just this scenario. She spoke at a conference about forgiveness. After the conference she was approached by a man who she recognized as having been one of the prison guards at the Concentration Camp where her father and sister died. He asked if she really meant what she had just said, and she said yes, she did. He asked her for forgiveness for what he had done to her and her family. She admitted that she herself could not forgive without the Father’s help. She put it in the Father’s hands and allowed Him to help heal her heart. Even though she could not condone what was done to her and her family, she allowed God to give her the strength to get past that moment and she forgave her persecutor.
To carry unforgiveness in our hearts leaves an opening for satan. If we dwell on something or someone that has wronged us, we give the demons and satan a foothold to steal our joy.
Our Savior gave the best example of forgiveness on the cross. He had an advantage because He knew what was going to happen all along. This moment had been prearranged even before the formation of the earth. However, He loved those persecuting Him so much, He was willing and able to ask for their forgiveness. He left room for them to repent later if they would. If they did not, they will face Him again at the Great White Throne Judgment. You cannot erase what has been done, but you can take away another person’s power over you to have hate enter your heart. Because of the Grace Jesus offered to those crucifying Him, the thief on the right side of Him asked for His forgiveness and received Mercy.
Know that no matter what, God loves you! He loves us all. He hates what we do sometimes. There is mention of certain acts that are an abomination to Him, but there is only one sin that He will not forgive. He wants you and I to accept His Son so that you will be accepted. (1 John 5:12)
Remember, the Creator’s life blood was shed to cover all our sins if the sinner will just repent and ask for forgiveness. This is found in 1 John 1: 8-10. To not do so is to deny that God loves us, and this is calling Him a liar. God doesn’t lie. (Titus 1:2)
Don’t let someone else keep you from the Joy the Father has in store for you. He has promised a home for us when we leave this earth. Don’t put off what you know needs to be done today because none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. If you take your last breath on this earth without accepting Jesus, your eternal destiny is set in the fires of Hell.
In the next post, I will provide something that may help you forgive those who are no longer around to be contacted.