Sunday, April 12, 2009

Power to Forgive

“If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven.” ~ John 20:23

That only God can forgive sins is clearly stated in Scripture. So what can John 20:23 possibly mean? A theologian I am not, but I’ve been wondering….

While stones were hurling Stephen to his death he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

In the ultimate act of clemency, Jesus asked God to forgive the crowd for crucifying the Lord of the universe.

What if God answered those prayers? What if, as those executioners stand before God on the day of judgment, their sin of murdering the Messiah and stoning His servant Stephen is no longer on their rap sheet? Could John 20:23 possibly mean that God won’t bring to account the sins against us we’ve forgiven?

Think about it:
The rapist forgiven by his victim won’t face God on her rape charge.
The forgiven murderer won’t give an account for the lives lost at her hands.
The lying backstabber won’t be punished for destroying a reputation.

Hmmm? Let me think on that.

The point of this pondering is not to determine my ability to keep someone from being judged based on my forgiveness. The point is…do I want to?

Very often I pacify my anger with the thought, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) I say I forgive, but secretly I hope ole “So-and-So” gets his/her “just desserts” one day.

And yet, somehow I know it’s true: if I can’t honestly pray, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” then I haven’t truly forgiven.

© Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2009


AllisonRhodes said...

Very thought-provoking post, Drewe.

And I sometimes wonder if I forgive too the expense of myself. There is a balance I need to find between letting go of resentments and letting God protect me. Or letting me protect myself.

Drewe Llyn said...

Allison, when I talk about forgiving, I certainly don't mean giving permission to be used as doormats. We can forgive wisely. What I mean is, if you forgive someone for betraying your confidence, you can wisely not confide in them again. That doesn't mean you hold their "sin" against them, but you have learned a lesson in discretion. Forgiveness is letting go of bitterness and the need for revenge. It doesn't always mean things between you and another person will go back to the way they were before.

Love and grace to you!
~ Drewe Llyn

barcak flock said...

Thanks for your thoughts and insights on your blog. I am also "in a season of painful transition, a time when much of what I thought was sure proved not to be. Yet, I rest securely in His hands, and trust His promise to never let me go"

In Christ,