I started looking at why a person would consider forgiving the “unforgivable” in my last post. I want to continue on that thought for a few more days and then talk more about what it takes to forgive the unforgivable.
Forgiveness that benefits the offender.
I noted that much is said today about forgiveness in regard to benefiting the victim. It’s interesting to see how the times change a teaching. For centuries forgiveness was taught as something that benefited the offender. The primary reason being that forgiveness is a picture of God’s love for us. His forgiveness benefits us. So we, in turn, seek to reflect that same love to others.
Forgiveness that only benefits the victim.
But our culture has become increasingly secular. People now look for ways to maintain the same virtues without necessarily pointing to God. So the teaching goes…don’t forgive to benefit others. Forgive to benefit yourself .There’s definitely truth to this. It’s just not the whole truth and therefore needs balance.
I agree with the old-school teaching that forgiveness should embody the gospel (which means “good news”) of God’s love. There is no wrong that can’t be forgiven. Nothing is unforgivable. Keep in mind what I said in earlier posts about what forgiveness is and isn’t.
Can any sin be unforgivable?
If there are unforgivable sins then what message would that send about God? It would tell us two things; one, that Jesus’ death was not powerful enough to cover certain sins. And two, that there is an unknown line out there that if crossed you have no hope of being forgiven.
Neither of these make any sense. If Jesus’ death didn’t cover certain sin then he can’t be referred to as Savior of all but savior of some. If Jesus died for any sin he died for all sin. Saying that some sins are unforgivable puts forgiveness at risk for everyone. We would all need to be concerned about where the line is drawn in regard to our sin.
My point here is that our forgiveness should reflect God’s forgiveness. We will not do it as well as he does but it should still be our goal. Miroslav Volf says…
Why should we forgive unconditionally and indiscrimately? …We forgive because God has already forgiven. For us to hold any offender captive to sin by refusing to forgive is to reject the reality of God’s forgiving grace. Because Christ died for all, we are called to forgive everyone who offends us, without distinctions and without conditions. Free of Charge, page 180
Be sure to track back with previous posts to get the big picture on this discussion.
Question: Do you agree or disagree that nothing is unforgivable? Leave your comment below.