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  Forgiveness or Not
 

To Forgive or Not to Forgive


A Pillar among Christian Teachings

The ransom is not discussed here!
This is a discussion about forgiving wrongdoings others commit against our person.

Part 1.       The importance of forgiving fellow believers.
                   Anger and Grudges--Laws forbidding these
                   The procedure employed to handle problems
                   Prayer
Part 2.       How to deal with unrepentant wrongdoers.
                  Anger and Grudges - How to deal with these issues/

The Importance of Forgiving

Before continuing, realize the importance of what Ecclesiastes 7:9 states: "Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones." (NW)

If we are to enjoy our fellow brothers and sisters, we must be a little thick-skinned, and try to have a bit of humor even if it should be at our own expense.  Let's leave small wrongs behind, or we'll never get along with anybody.

Part 1

Forgiveness Emphasized

The importance of forgiveness is hard to overemphasize.  Christ included it in the only prayer he taught his followers.
Matthew 6:12, and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors (Darby)
The explanation he gave after the prayer carries a stern warning:
Matthew 6:14-15 , "For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. 15But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences. ses, neither will YOUR Father forgive YOUR trespasses."
On that basis alone, the problem of forgiveness seems straightforward.  Indeed, when Peter asked Jesus about this subject, Jesus answered: 
Matt 18: 21-35, "Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. 25And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. 28But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. 29And his fellow servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt. 31Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me:

33Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? 34And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. 35So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts. (DRC)

Anger & Grudges

Grudges must not be held against fellow believers!  Neither must we harbor anger against a fellow believer.
Leviticus 19:18, Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am Jehovah. (Darby)
In the following scripture, Matthew stresses the unacceptability of anger.
(Webster) Matt 5:22, But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire

(NW) Matt 5:22, "However, I say to YOU that everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court of justice; but whoever addresses his brother with an unspeakable word of contempt will be accountable to the Supreme Court; whereas whoever says, 'You despicable fool!' will be liable to the fiery Gehenna.  
Next, Luke expounds on a balanced view of forgiveness.  His gospel contains many details not found in the other three gospels.  Many of these  details are cornerstones of our Christian faith.  Such a cornerstone  is found in Luke 17 regarding the problem of forgiveness and repentance.

How to handle problems

Case Victim

Here in Luke, the steps are:
1. the problem occurs
2. at some later time, soon after one would think – the victim rebukes the wrongdoer.
3. if lucky, the wrongdoer repents.
Luke 17:3,4, Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4And if he sin against thee seven times in the day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (ASV)
We forgive the rebuked person, if he repents.  It seems reasonable to expect repentance should be shown by saying 'Sorry' and when needed by giving a personal statement to the fact that he will attempt to avoid repeating the offensive act.  Some may object to Acts 26:20 being used to support this point.  My reply is:  If works befitting repentance are needed to become Christian and to be forgiven one's sins committed prior to this, how much more is repentance and works befitting repentance needed while Christian!
Acts 26:20, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. (ASV)

2 Corinthians 7:11, "For, look! this very thing, YOUR being saddened in a godly way, what a great earnestness it produced in YOU, yes, clearing of yourselves, yes, indignation, yes, fear, yes, longing, yes, zeal, yes, righting of the wrong! In every respect YOU demonstrated yourselves to be chaste in this matter.  (NW)

Case Altar: Victim or wrongdoer

Matthew 5:23,24, "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; 24Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. (DRC)

Get help from competent brothers -fellow belivers - that act as witnesses

Matthew 18:15-17, But if thy brother sin against thee, go, reprove him between thee and him alone. If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he do not hear thee , take with thee one or two besides, that every matter may stand upon the word of two witnesses or of three. let him be to thee as one of the nations and a tax-gatherer.  17But if he will not listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if also he will not listen to the assembly, let him be to thee as one of the nations and a tax-gatherer. (Darby)

17And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican (DRC) 
Just because the offended person or the offender brings witnesses, these should not be working for the petitioner's side!  Witnesses should be impartial and try to understand what is wrong so as to try to help repair the rift. 

If someone got mad at you, obviously you would notice that your brother has something against you.  Similarly, if all of a sudden someone who used to treat you as a friend now is ice cold toward you, this could be a clue that perhaps you did something to offend the brother.  In both cases, whether one is the victim or the wrongdoer, one should be swift to try to settle matters.
Psalm 37:8, Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself: it would be only to do evil. 9For evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait on Jehovah, they shall possess the land. (Darby)
This point is supported by the following scripture from Matthew; however, one would not expect to have to go through with Matthew's procedure unless it is somewhat serious and necessary!  
Matthew 5:44,45, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you, 45that ye may be the sons of your Father who is in the heavens; for he makes his sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust. (Darby)

Luke 6:27-29, But, unto you, I say, who are hearkening: Be loving your enemies; be doing, good, unto them that hate you; 28Be blessing them that curse you; be praying for them that wantonly insult you.  (Rotherham)

Prayer

We can always pray that erring individuals straighten up and learn to do righteousness.  If they don't do that they cannot get saved!  So, that is a nice thing to pray for.  If we pray for God to forgive them, we are actually asking God to discipline them in righteousness since God cannot let the unrighteous into God's kingdom, whether that is into the earthly paradise or into heaven.

We could ask God in the name of Christ to discipline them as well as ourselves so that we all learn to practice righteousness.  We can pray as Jesus said that God forgive them their sins as well as our sins since, as just mentioned, God must include His correction of their wrongdoings as well as of our wrongdoings.

Even when it concerns problems between a believer, oneself, and non-believers, it would not be inappropriate to pray that they accept God's discipline, righteousness, and pray that they become baptized Christians.

How to Deal with Unrepentant Wrongdoers

Part 2.

When King Saul repeatedly tried to cause David bodily harm, and later actively pursued him so as to kill him, David did not retaliate.  Rather, David still had Saul's welfare in mind, and was sorry to hear when Saul and his son died.  Instead of retribution or even trying to pay back, David removed himself as far as he could from the wrongdoer.   When Saul pursued David, he ran even further away.

That Christians may use similar tactics to deal with problems, Paul teaches us unwillingly.
Acts 15:39-41,  And there arose an angry feeling, so that they separated one from the other: and, Barnabas, taking Mark, sailed away unto Cyprus,— 40whereas, Paul, choosing Silas, went forth, committed unto the favour of the Lord by the brethren, 41and proceeded to pass through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the assemblies. (Rotherham)
 

How to Deal with Anger and Grudge Issues.

Example: In this imaginary family, a ten year old son and five year old son has an unusually severe fight.  The older boy breaks his brother's arm in viciousness.  The victim is very angry at his big brother!

However, after observing his father's righteous discipline of his big brother, the little one is calmed down; his anger goes away, and he is able to play with big brother after sufficient apology and repentance has been displayed on the part of big brother.  Not only that, his love for his parents deepens; his confidence in their justice, and protection grows.
End of Example  

This example demonstrates the reason why the little boy can leave anger and grudge behind.  The scriptures below give us the same reason to do so.  God is our father and he tells us:
Romans 12:17-21,  To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. 19Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord 20Therefore if thy enemy hungereth, feed him; if he thirsteth, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good. (DRC)
As in the example, God promises to handle payback, and he insists that we do not become engaged in evil acts.  What the Christian is exhorted to do is to overcome evil by doing good.  Find an opportunity to do your ' enemy ' a favor as verse 20 indicates.
 Psalm 62:12, And, thine, O My Lord, is loving kindness,—For, thou, wilt pay back unto every man—according to his deed. (Rotherham)
In this way God helps his servants to remain peaceful.  It is God's loving kindness that makes him pay back each one of us for our deeds.  The scriptures below prove that it is completely certain that God will pay everybody back both their good and their evil works.

(NW) Col 3:25, "Certainly the one that is doing wrong will receive back what he wrongly did, and there is no partiality."

(Rotherham) Col 3:25, "For, he that acteth unrighteously, shall get back what he had unrighteously done, and there is no respect of persons."

There are so many scriptures guaranteeing this that I'll finish with Proverbs 11:31: (ASV) 

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: How much more the wicked and the sinner!


 
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