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Archive for July, 2009

Must We Always Forgive?

Does God forgive those who deny wrongdoing or don’t seek forgiveness? Does God command we forgive those who physically or sexually abuse us, yet show no remorse or even deny their actions when confronted? Where in Matthew 18 does it say when you go to a brother who has sinned against you and they refuse to listen, you should forgive them? Doesn’t it say if they don’t listen, throw them out of the church least they and others actually think they are spiritual?  But, Stephen forgave his stoners as they were stoning him, so might wisdom and discernment be needed in certain situations? Does the Bible suggest God performs some type of forgiveness ritual before condemning the evil to eternity without Him? Doesn’t the Bible teach God forgives those who desire his forgiveness, but mustn’t we be remorseful and seek God’s forgiveness with a desire to change? Isn’t forcing forgiveness on another person forcing God on them when obviously they do not seek such a relationship?

With forgiveness doesn’t it take two to tango? Mustn’t the innocent party be willing to forgive and the guilty party must recognize and confess their sin? Doesn’t easy forgiveness just encourage and enable the guilty to continue in their sinful ways to the harm of others? Aren’t amends important to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and to make matters right for all parties impacted? When a child steals from their parents, isn’t this stealing from others than just the parents as this money may have been intended for siblings or others? Don’t we ignore the importance of justice to victims or encourage the victim to continue to be victimized when amends are not required?

In situations where the guilty are not remorseful, isn’t the challenge instead to not take revenge? Isn’t God better able to handle revenge without being vindictive? Isn’t the challenge to not allow bitterness to rule or interfere with life on a daily basis? What purpose does it serve to allow another person’s sins to continue to hold you hostage? Can the guilty really recognize their selfishness and change without recognizing the needs for amends? Doesn’t the Cross and Jesus’ violent death teach us there is always a price that must be paid when one sins? Or why then didn’t God just verbally forgive those who sought His forgiveness?

But, if one truly seek forgiveness, can one be a Christian and not forgive? Don’t people often only experience what God is like when they are forgiven though not deserving? Isn’t it true one can never really earn forgiveness? Can anyone really payback what they have taken from someone (i.e. childhood with appropriate parental love, sexual purity)? Do Christians forgive others because they deserve it or because God forgave us? But, isn’t confession an integral aspect of how we receive God’s grace?

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