I know that forgiveness and loving enemies is a topic I return to regularly, both as I teach/preach and as I write. Honestly,
I think that is because I am so terrible at it.
Recently, I was reading The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self, Robert Mulholland and was challenged by his observation of our need to categorize others in ways that always gives us the advantage. As I chewed on this thought over and over, I began to see how this reality shapes our inability to forgive. If I am constantly putting myself in my sin at an advantage over another person and their sin I will struggle to love and forgive.
This plays out as we think things like “Yes, I gossip, but they slander and lie, at least what I say is true.” We can quickly see how in any sin we can maneuver in such a way that we aren’t as bad as “them.”
These thoughts took my mind to the apostle Paul who writes, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV).
At times I have found myself wanting to argue with Paul, and explain why I am the worst of sinners. Interestingly enough, it is in the moments where I feel as if I am the worst of sinners that I find forgiving others to be much easier to do.
If I am the worst of sinners, then I cannot withhold forgiveness from you, because I am worse.
Any of us who are Christians and find ourselves in the midst of gossip, lust, greed, outbursts of anger, deception, division, drunkenness, sexual immorality, etc. have no excuse. We know and have accepted Jesus and His sacrifice for us. As we participate in any sin we make ourselves slaves to the sin from which Christ has freed us (Romans 6).
We would do well to heed Jesus’ advice in Revelation 2:5 and “Remember the height from which you have fallen!”
Let us constantly remember our own depravity, and in doing so find the strength and ability to forgive others of their own shortcomings.
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