This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC in October 2012
There are many stories about Christians who have suffered incredible wrongs, yet have been able to offer forgiveness. You could rightly wonder how they manage to do it. One answer can be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In 4:32 he wrote that they should “forgive others, just as God (in Christ) forgave you.” Paul knew that forgiven people should be ready to forgive others.
It works something like this: perfect justice demands that every wrong that is done must have an equal punishment. Paul recognises that all of us have sinned against God (‘sin’ is another word for ‘crime’, but in the sense that it is breaks God’s laws). But rather than dealing out tough justice on us for all those things, God has put all our punishment on Jesus (who is the ‘Son of God’ come as a man). Rather than balancing out the scales of justice, God simply took all the wrongs we have done to him and absorbed it all himself in his Son. He didn’t pay them back against us. That’s great cause for gratitude on our part!
In Jesus, God gave us grace. If you can accept that gift and say, ‘thank-you’, then God expects us to be givers too, and forgive those who wrong us (cf. Matthew 18:21-35). The question is this: in light of what has been given to you, how much could you manage to give to others?