Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~ Matthew 18:21-22
In my last article on Evangelicals and Racism, I asked the question, “When will Christ be enough?” This was in response to the constant calls for people to repent of racism they may or may not have committed. These calls have come from both white and black preachers alike, with ringleaders such as Thabiti Anyabwile, whose real name is Ron Burns, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Kyle J. Howard, J. D. Greear and all the way down to local pastors. Racial and social justice seems to be the “IN” thing to preach on these days, and, quite frankly, many of us of all skin colors are getting tired of it.
So why the Matthew 18 passage? It is because the message of forgiveness is being totally tossed aside just like the Gospel itself. Forgiveness is so intricately woven into the message of the cross that to leave it out, the message of the cross becomes pointless. When Christ died at Calvary, our sins against Him were nailed to that cross and we were freed from the bondage of sin! When Christ forgave us, He liberated us! He didn’t tell the lame man lowered through the roof to go pay penance! He forgave him of his sins! And in verse 22, Christ calls us to forgive. Why? Because we have been forgiven of far greater offenses. We have been forgiven of willful rebellion against the most Holy God of all creation, the God who would be just in casting everyone into an eternity in Hell. But He doesn’t do that to His children. Instead, He showed mercy and forgave. And He did it nailed to a wooden cross, taking on every bit of the wrath and anger and justice of the Heavenly Father. And he did it willingly.
Why aren’t these SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors) preaching about forgiveness? That is a hard question to answer. Maybe they are afraid the victims in their congregations will disagree and turn on them. (In a conversation with a black woman when she was talking about reparations needing to be made to the black community, I asked her if she had ever considered the command to forgive. She asked me who was I to talk about forgiveness because I didn’t know her situation.) Maybe it is about the money and the popularity. I mean, who wants to hear a preacher speak on something as boring as forgiveness when there are much livelier subjects. The parable of the unforgiving servant following Peter’s question to our Lord says it all. The servant was forgiven a debt he could never repay as we have been forgiven. But yet he goes out to collect a small debt from a fellow servant, and when he could not repay the debt, the first servant had him thrown into prison. Our sins against God are far greater than any sin ever in a thousand years could be committed against us. But again, this message is not being preached. Instead, guilt is being cast and virtue is being signaled.
Forgiveness is such a beautiful thing! When we forgive, not only do we heap coals on our offender, but we free ourselves from the anger and animosity caused by the offense. That’s true liberation theology when you can simply forgive. How Christ-like is that? He forgave us of our sins that should send us straight to hell. Can we not forgive the person that has sinned against us, whether it be a grievous or heinous offense or one that simply hurt our feelings? Forgiveness is not an easy or immediate lesson to learn. In fact, it can be a very hard lesson to learn. I know because I am one who has held grudges for a very long time. But when we can let go of the offense and the offender, the peace and joy and healing that follows is overwhelming. I know this as well since I have recently experienced it for myself with someone that I held a long grudge against and he held a long grudge against me. And when we forgave one another, the bond created was amazing. Forgiveness for the child of God is found at the cross of Christ. It’s not always easy and we don’t always forget, but there is freedom in forgiveness. So, why not forgive and be truly reconciled to your brother in Christ?
Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look unto Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!….” Look to Christ and find forgiveness and you will also learn to forgive. This, by the way, is the same passage that was preached on the day Charles Spurgeon came to saving faith.
In Christ Alone,
[Contributed by Steve Evans]
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