Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forgiving Love

“Forgiving love is a possibility only for those who know that they are not good, who feel themselves in need of divine mercy…”

Ran across that quotation by Reinhold Niebuhr in Christianity Today. For someone who reads their Bible it’s not particularly surprising—Jesus said it long ago (Matthew 6:12, Matthew 18:21-35) and Christians ethics is based on the concept.

No, I shouldn’t call it a concept… It’s something more real and more animating than your everyday concept. Those who know the reality of God’s forgiveness know the power of words such as these: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30). And what a weighty thing it is to have words like these in your mouth when you approach a holy God: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

So even though the quotation isn’t surprising, it is profound. And, if you are having trouble forgiving someone, it is also very practical. People aren’t going to find forgiveness possible if they don’t see their own need for forgiveness.

But don’t stop reading yet. The best part of this short post is this…

What is amazing about the God who saves, the God described in the pages of Scripture, is that He forgives freely.

God made provision for our salvation not because He knew He Himself needed forgiveness but out of a freely given mercy. People who think they are perfect don’t forgive well; but God in His perfection forgave those who hated His perfection. He still does to this day.

And Jesus, God in the flesh, forgave those who hated and abused Him—not because He needed forgiveness, but in order to provide forgiveness.


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