Chapter 28

Jesus of Galilee

FORGIVENESS

 

Jesus, in bringing the atonement, taught the principles of forgiveness with such unmistakable clarity that the world cannot misunderstand. But it is hard for a righteous man who is not consciously at fault to forgive flagrant injustice.

 

This is because his reasoning mind cannot condone the thing he automatically judges, being unable to look beyond or back at the cause for such action. If he himself was not at fault and was doing the best he could, society, I'm sure, would become a little better and the other man would inevitably learn the principles of reality and truth.

 

This is what Jesus was teaching when he talked about the hardness of their hearts, to see why a man must overlook the harm done either to himself or another.

 

When someone owes him a debt, physical or moral or otherwise, he is perfectly justified in wanting and attempting to get this acknowledged and settled. But because he is "right," it is that much harder to let go of it and give up the situation, where the other man is not able at the present to pay the debt.

 

If he himself were in the wrong, he would weep and repent, getting himself in the position where he could make amends, but how can he repent for doing good? Sometimes helping another is not always doing good. It's according to how we help.

 

In this very logical seeking for justification lies one's greatest danger of being in a state of unforgiveness with his Creator. For as God forgives all who ask through His Son, though they have sinned against Him without reason, we in seeking to become like Him, must also assume ourselves greater than a human act. We must look at things on a larger scale. Weighed on the scale of right and wrong, as in many things, right and wrong are not always a reality.

 

As long as man insists that everything be made right according to human understanding, he is delaying the greater spiritual Justice. Man must forgive from the heart rather than the head, even for no apparent reason at all. But the reason eventually shows its ultimate source of reality.

 

If the wrongdoer should make restitution and set things right, he gains a reward for himself. But if he does not, or will not, even after his error is shown to him, then the person wronged must drop the debt from his consciousness lest it become a burden to his soul and far outweigh the debt itself. Avenge not yourselves. For it is written (Romans 12), "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

 

Unforgiveness is itself a sin. It denies the grace of God by saying in fact that one can't overcome the remembrance of a wrong, which was committed. By making the error larger than the good in himself and holding onto it with a stubborn self-righteous attitude, he blocks the way to his own salvation. For bitterness can't live in heaven. It must be dropped before one may even apply at the pearly gates.

 

In speaking of the forgiveness of your debts, God has set an example of the greatness of the heart of Jesus Christ, even beyond the human comprehension. One can forgive a child for small misdemeanors. But in refusing to forgive, you are saying that this person and his acts are greater than your consciousness of your power to forgive and thus you are not walking in the shadow of the Master.

 

If one who has already been absolved from sin turns again to find condemnation in his heart, how much harder the second time to come before his Lord and ask that he repeat the crossing out of all his debts? God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, forgave men their sins in order that men might have compassion on one another, that brotherhood might be possible.

 

"If your brother sins against you," Jesus said, "go tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens, you have gained a brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of the two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church or your pastor; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector," as a non-believer, one who is not a part of you.

 

"Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

"And again I say unto you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

 

Then it was that Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

 

"And I say to you, therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

 

"So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

 

"But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'

 

"He refused, and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

 

"Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'

 

"In anger his lord delivered him to the jailers till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

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