Over this last semester I heard two sermons having to do with forgiveness. I was trying to determine from these and previous conversations what a proper structure would be for forgiveness. I decided to do a few posts about it.
There seem to be two propagated teachings. One is to “let it go” whenever someone sins against you, regardless of the person’s repentance. The Second is to hold on to it but to do so loosely, waiting for the person to repent.
Whether you “let it go” or “hold it loosely”, I formulated this structure to better understand how these might be understood:
By the power of Jesus, I fully give up any imagined right to personal retaliation or retribution toward this person or these people in recognition that this situation either was already handled justly and violently in Jesus Christ while on the cross or will be handled justly and violently by Jesus Christ’s infliction on this person or these people in hell forever. In either way, God has made full provision for this situation and calls me to pray and act in love toward this person or these people.
I included “violently” to describe the perfect punishment exacted by God against those who die in sin.
It is important to pull a few things out of the above statement before closing this post. First, God handles punishment, not us (Romans 12:19, Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44). Second, every person we encounter will live forever, either in God’s joy or in His wrath (Matthew 25:21, 30). Third, we are not able to see where they will spend eternity. So regardless of who they are, we must obey God’s command in the same way for all – love and prayer (Matthew 5:39-42, 44-48).
In the following two posts we’ll explore: 1) which view of forgiveness is right – “let it go” or “hold it loosely”?; 2) how do we love someone who we have not forgiven?