- Forgiving one another and aiming for restoration
Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-12
Paul tells us to aim for restoration. The word he uses here was often used to describe how a doctor would repair a broken bone or a fisherman would repair a net. We need to aim for repairing broken relationships. We are called to live in peace.
Read Ephesians 4:32
The secular world speaks a lot about forgiveness. Just turn on Dr. Phil and you will see him talking about the power of forgiveness and self-forgiveness. So the world sees forgiveness as an important thing.
But yet notice how Paul adds the gospel element. Why are we to forgive? And how can we even begin to forgive someone who has hurt us deeply?
Just as God in Christ forgave you. That makes it more emphatic and powerful. We forgive because of the forgiveness we have received from God in the cross.
In Christ we have complete forgiveness of our sins through His blood and God chose to wipe our slate clean even when we mistreated Him, blasphemed His name, rebelled against Him, and spit in His face time and time again.
Corrie ten Boom was a woman of great faith who survived the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. The war was over and she had gone back to Germany in 1947 to share the gospel of God’s grace and forgiveness. It was in a church in Munich where she was speaking when she saw the balding, heavyset man in a gray. He began to approach her and she remembered the atrocities at Ravensbruck concentration camp where she remembered having to walk naked in shame past this man on her way to the gas chamber. This man coming toward her was the cruelest, most foul guard that tortured them. Her message that night was on God’s forgiveness and how he casts our sins to the bottom of the ocean.
The man reached out his hand and said, “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that all our sins are at the bottom of the ocean!” She was frozen and didn’t know what to do. All the memories came racing back to her. He told her that he was a guard at Ravensbrook, but had now become a Christian and experienced God’s full forgiveness. He wanted to hear it from her lips as well so he asked her forgiveness. This was the most difficult thing she could do because her sister Betsy had died in that terrible place. She asked for the strength to do it, and the Lord provided her the grace to extend her hand in forgiveness bringing tears to her eyes as she said, “I forgive you brother! With all my heart!”
In our own power, we can’t possibly offer forgiveness to a person who has hurt us, but in Christ we can. We look at the cross and see His extraordinary love for us who have hurt Him beyond measure with our sin and yet He died for us while we were still sinners. He forgave us.
We sometimes do a lousy job of this as Christians. For example, when we go and ask a person for forgiveness, often times what the other person says is “That’s okay”. We say, “That’s okay”. And in reality, we are not practicing gospel forgiveness.
It’s not okay. I have sinned against you and I need to confess to you that it is sin and ask your forgiveness. If all you say is “that’s okay” then you have minimized my sin and are brushing it under the carpet. Instead, we need to say, “I know you’ve sinned against me and it hurt, but in Christ, I accept your confession and I forgive you as Christ forgave you.”
In the cross, God did not just say “It’s okay”—if it was just okay then why did His perfect Son have to die a brutal death. Sin is real and it has been committed and it is real transgression and offense and it needs to be paid for by a real and definite atonement from Christ.
When we forgive one another we need to make sure that we acknowledge sin and call it sin and then actually offer forgiveness to one another by reminding each other that we can do this through the gospel.
Do you struggle with forgiveness? Is there someone in your life right now that you haven’t forgiven and to whom you are harboring bitterness? Spend time in prayer confessing this sin and asking Jesus to shower you with a greater understanding of His forgiveness of you.
I cannot comprehend how you forgave me! I was under God’s wrath and alienated and separated and rebellious in my sin and yet in Your sovereign grace you reached down from heaven and granted me new life. You completely wiped away my sin and granted me complete forgiveness. Because of what You did for me, please grant me the grace to forgive others. If there is any bitterness in my heart, please totally get rid of it. Lord, please do a deep work in my life so that I can be a person who is loving, forgiving, and joyful.
I need Your help,