NT Tuesday: Forgiving One Another

ProdigalTwo weeks ago, we began to look at the New Testament principle of bearing (or forbearing) and forgiving one another. Our text is found in Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on, therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

In our post two weeks ago, we mostly focused on the idea of bearing with one another. This week, I’d like to begin the process of thinking about what forgiving one another looks like. I recently had the privilege of speaking on this topic at a local assembly. As I was preparing for the series of messages, God kept impressing upon me the simple truth that forgiveness is all about relationships. Sin and offense breaks or impedes relationships.


Fixing Broken Relationships


Forgiveness (and forbearance) is the solution to broken relationships. Forgiveness should lead to restoration. So often, we look at forgiveness as trying to RIGHT A WRONG! And it is not! Forgiveness is blotting out a wrong, wiping away the handwriting of judgement against us, declaring the debt paid! It is NOT righting a wrong. If we are trying to right a wrong, we are going to squelch forgiveness.

Let’s look at one of my favorite examples and a very well known Bible passage. In Luke 15, we have a father and two sons. We aren’t told a lot about this family, but we are told that the younger son wanted his share of his father’s wealth NOW before his father died. This was clearly an insult to the father. Basically the son said, “I’d rather have riches and go my own way and fulfill my own lusts than be part of your family.”

Even though the father did not have to abide by his son’s request, he did give his son his share of the family wealth. This would have been not only a private shameful event in the life of the father, but also a public embarrassment. But the father allowed the son to go his own way. (God does that with us, too, doesn’t He?) As we know, the son left home and quickly spent everything he had and then ran into trouble. There was a famine and the son “began to be in need.” So he became a servant to one of the locals and his job involved feeding the pigs. He still remained in need. He finally got to the end of himself he decided to go back home, apologize and ask his father to hire him as a servant. (Even this is an act of flesh that is worthy of being considered at some point in the future.)


A Father’s Love


As the son began the journey home, the father had already been waiting for him. The Bible records that while the son was still a long way off, the father was standing there and saw him and felt compassion for the son and embraced him. The father had already forgiven the son before the son had a chance to apologize. The father’s goal was to restore a relationship by forgiving his son. The father’s goal was NOT to make things right. He didn’t ask where the money was, he didn’t ask what the son had been doing, he forgave him. He wiped away the sin, he blotted out the wrong-doings and he wrote off the debt.

The son’s apology was flawed, full of flesh and man’s reason, but the father’s forgiveness was not based on the quality of the son’s apology. The father’s forgiveness was based on the love the father had for the son. Think on that for a week….

Until next week, fulfill your ministry.


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