Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is Forgiveness? Part 2.

If a husband violently attacks his wife and then apologises. Should she forgive him?
If he then bashes his wife and apologises and then does it again and again, and each time he asks for forgiveness, should she forgive him?

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
  • Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV) 

Does this mean if he bashes and hurts her every week for a year and each time asks for forgiveness, she should stay with him and not leave?

Jesus is our example. What can we learn from his life?

When the time came for Jesus to lay down his life by dying on the cross, he did not resist violence but gave himself up. 

However, on other occasions, God protected him and he escaped. 

  • When he was a baby and Herod tried to kill him, Mary and Joseph escaped with him to Egypt. 
  • When he grew up, God protected him from premature death.

And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:29-30 (ESV) 

Jesus never bore a grudge. 

He was always willing to forgive but that did not oblige him to submit to violence or physical danger until the time came for him to offer himself as a sacrifice on the cross.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
  • But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 
  • and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. John 2:23-25 (ESV)

Jesus was never bitter or unwilling to forgive but he did not trust untrustworthy people. He did not put his life in the hands of dangerous people until the time came for him to die.

Christians are often told never to defend themselves or speak up against abuse because Jesus did not resist evil when he was arrested and killed. Christians are told they have no rights.

  • Is this true? 

Jesus used very sharp language to speak against his enemies on many occasions. It was only when the time came for him to die, that he laid aside his rights and laid down his life.

When the Apostle Paul was arrested savagely beaten, he defended his rights as a Roman citizen.

Acts 16:37-39 (ESV) 37  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38  The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39  So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 

It is a sad irony that some preachers who teach Christians not to protect themselves are very quick to speak against anyone who challenges them. 

So it is clear that you must forgive every time someone attacks or abuses you, especially if they say they are sorry, even 490 times. 

However, that does not mean that you have to stay in a situation where you are certain to be attacked again and again, even if each attack is followed by an apology.

You can forgive and pray for blessing on your persecutor but you can do it from a safe distance.

Some might say that if you forgive, you must forget and not talk about the offender. 

However, if you are badly injured, you need to talk about your injuries to a doctor. If you are under threat, you need to talk about it to the police and to lawyers.
If you are damaged emotionally and spiritually, you need friendship and spiritual support. 

So, of course you need to talk about your persecutor but at the same time pray for blessing and help for him.

No comments:

Post a Comment