Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Word Concerning Forgiveness

So, I've been reading these two incidents at the forefront, it seems, of American Evangelism: Josh Duggar, and the other issue with the Root family at Village Church, where Matt Chandler is pastor. I've read different articles from different angles, meditated and pondered much on these issues. But, my mind keeps going back to one thing: the Gospel. No matter where I go in my thoughts, and how I try to consider what has been done and what consequences should be laid out, I cannot escape the fact that many who have spoken on these issues are not speaking from a Gospel-centered, Christ-centered view.

What really got my wheels turning in this direction was a blog post from my brother, Kevin Jandt, over at Uncommon Faith. You can read his take on the Duggar situation here. Then I read one this morning on the Village Church situation from Jordan Hall over at Pulpit and Pen. You can read this one here.

After reading both of these articles, I finally came to my own conclusion.

Here's a few questions:

Is your forgiveness as radical as the death of Christ on the cross, or do you only dispense it to the "deserving", or those who aren't as "morally bad" as these two men?
Or is your response to write these two men off as if somehow they are undeserving of that finished work of Christ on that cross?
Are you one of those who mutter under your breath, "Well, I would NEVER do THAT!"?

How can any of us, who are experiencing the grace of God and the benefits of the cross, be so arrogant or condescending as to act in such a way as above, or respond in such a way as above?

Believe me, I understand fully the anger and disgust that I have seen concerning the actions of these two men, and I do not condone their actions. However, what I also see is responses fueled by emotions, and not guided by Scripture. While we mourn for the victims, has anyone mourned for the souls of these two men?

You're disgusted? I hope you are just as disgusted at your own sin, if not more.
You're upset? I hope you are just as upset at your own sin, if not more.
You're decrying their actions? I hope you are decrying yours even more.

You see, it's so easy for us to stand flat-footed against others' sin, all the while secretly minimizing our own. Let me ask you this: What makes your sin, BIBLICALLY, any less of a stench to God's nostrils than anyone else's? When we consider ourselves, and the depths of our own sin, it develops a proper response to the offenses of others. Emotions, anger, disgust, and whatever other feelings you may be having NEVER trump your obedience to Scripture, IF you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, nor do they carry greater or even equal weight. Now, does a biblical, Gospel-centered, Christ-centered response negate how you may be feeling? No, but it grounds your feelings. It gives your feelings a proper foundation to work from.

Remember this in your dealings with others' offenses: You were (or are) just as guilty as these two men, and yet, the Son of God - an innocent man with no spot, blemish, or wrinkle - died in your stead because there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that you could do to remedy or change your standing before God. Because of this, we should all be standing in a posture of readiness to forgive all men of all offenses provided that they show true repentance, and when and if they do, we are commanded to forgive them...regardless of how egregious the offense may be. If you do not want to forgive upon clear signs of repentance, then the problem really lies with you and not with the offender.

The Scriptures are clear:

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” - Luke 17:3-4, ESV

21 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?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” - Matthew 18:21-35, ESV

In your dealings with these two men, whatever manner that may be, keep watch over yourself to make sure that you are not the unforgiving servant in the parable above.