An Admirable Life-16-Forgiveness (3)

 "But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother 'Fool' (raca-a word meaning 'worthless') will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, 'You Moron!' will be subject to hellfire."

                    —-Matthew 5:22, The Speaker, Jesus, the Christ

"Because of this I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come."

                    —–Matthew 12:31,32-The Speaker, Jesus, the Christ 


   Should forgiveness wait for the offender to take responsibility? Should forgiveness be withheld until the guilty party suffers?

   Is forgiveness just the willing end of vengeful anger? Does unmerited forgiveness expose the weakness, nay, the vulnerability, of the forgiving man?

   Can forgiveness be demanded? Or, should forgiveness be a gift, freely dispensed?

   The transitional Bishop Joseph Butler tells us in ancient sermons on forgiveness that we must temper resentment and absolutely forswear revenge. Revenge is what humans do to ratchet up violence. Resentment is what humans feel to defend themselves, a kind of prickly conscience that alerts you to danger.

   One remembers even Jesus set down a boundary (one, not the hundreds of Church tradition), a border, if you will, for forgiveness. He could be reviled, persecuted and hated, Jesus, Himself. A word against the Holy Spirit? That takes care of you for life and eternity (the age to come) as well.

   One remembers His discourse on personal relationships. One of us who pronounces another worthless (raca)  can be hauled before the Sanhedrin to answer for his incivility. One who calls a brother a moron is in danger of hell fire.

   We are left to decide Jesus understands we can go too far but we should not start at too far and work forward from there.  Resentfulness is not kindness, to say the least. If resentment (vengeful anger of an active nature) does not damage its subject simply because we cannot reach him, does it have to take out its damning effects on its object, one's own soul? Is it possible the spiritually keen Jesus simply knows the unforgiving are not likely to seek out real forgiveness for themselves, so active are they in imagining pain for their antagonist?

    For instance, in the narrower context of this writing, should the next executive leader put before Texas baptist Christians be the Great Defender or the New Forgiver? Does he remember the cause of disunion and the primacy of those able to lead one to disaster but unable do nothing beyond that? What will this fellow do to be better?

   Can he forgive and still defend? Rightly inspected, he will be a petri dish of research in the laboratory of redemption. 


Opinions expressed here are mine alone.


4 thoughts on “An Admirable Life-16-Forgiveness (3)”

  1. Yes, even Jesus was a defender of the Holy Spirit against those who would corrupt Its rite of worship/encounter…
    Matthew 21:12-13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
    Cleansing the Temple Complex
    12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves! ”
    I am fairly certain He was angry and somewhat violent in HIs active anger.

  2. A third option, particularly evident in the OT, is Great Intercessor.
    A fourth: this week SBC is calling for a day of prayer, fasting and repentance. I don’t know whether it is an annual emphasis or what.

  3. Even in the old times we see a God who regularly forgave his people, even though they were merely His people(chosen). Otherwise why would the angel of death skip over the houses of the blood stained threshold? Why would Rahab enter into the lineage of the Immaculate? Why would David continue to rule? Why would Jesus come to/through/from such an arrogant people?
    Sometimes the example of forgiveness is more easily seen than heard.
    Even Pharoah had his chance but chose to not accept the path of forgiveness. And afterward God hardened his heart for the great intercession we all love to remember.

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