A great post today from Molly Friesen at Route 5:9, Forgiveness is an Investment: What it Costs. She’s blogging through Paul Tripp’s book on marriage, What Did You Expect. This, and Linda’s prior post, The Dark “Benefits” of Unforgiveness, are worth reading. I’m guessing Tripp’s book is, too.
It’s interesting that so many legalists forget about the rule of forgiveness, which is a key element in Jesus’ teaching. He even went so far as to say that if we don’t forgive, our Heavenly Father won’t forgive us, either. Seriously – it’s at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Now, you can try to take the position that this “is more of a guideline than a rule,” but Jesus doesn’t seem to give much leeway here.
So how does this fit into a theology of radical grace?
It fits quite well, actually, with a proper understanding of forgiveness. As many of us were taught in Sunday School, Jesus dies for the sins of the world.
1 John 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)
Jesus’ sacrifice was not made for us individually; forgiveness was truly once and for all. If we refuse to acknowledge and participate in this forgiveness for someone who has wronged us, we are simply refusing to participate in God’s forgiveness. Being forgiven means we agree that everyone is forgiven. Refusing to forgive someone means we are closing our heart, not that God is withholding anything from us.
Now, do we forgive perfectly? I seriously doubt it. I don’t think I do, even if it is my intent. But, God’s grace–God’s power made real in our lives–is sufficient for that, too.
We have been set free, not to sin, but so we can live–and forgive–freely.