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On Forgiveness And Forbearance (via Simone Richardson)

Simone Richardson writes about an unhelpful tendency to mistake situations where forgiveness is extended when what should be properly offered is forbearance.
Forgiveness is what’s needed when God’s standards are breached.
Forbearance has more to do with when it’s our standards that are not being met.
From the article.

Forbearance is what is needed when we are confronted with the frailties of another human being: their annoying mannerisms, their forgetfulness, their inability to say the right thing in a certain situation, their incompetence at tasks we feel they ought to be able to manage, their frustrating messiness, the way that they do not live up to my standards. In these situations, we need to stop forgiving and start forbearing.
For many of the frustrations that we experience with our spouses, friends and colleagues are not directly caused by sin on their part. Often we think that they can do better, or ought to be able to do better if they tried, but forbearance remembers that they, like us, are human. Weakness is built into the core of our being.

Read the whole post at the Gospel Coalition Australia.

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Once And For All (via Scotty Smith)

From Scotty Smith’s prayer/blog Heavenward:

The Once-and-For-All-ness of Jesus’ Single Sacrifice for Our Sins

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, once and for all. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Heb. 10:11-14 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, O, the wonder of this Good News … We cannot hear it too much, believe it too deeply, or rejoice in it too fully. By your death on the cross, you have taken away our sins, once and for all. Nothing is left undone; nothing more needs to happen; nothing else could’ve met our need. It’s not, you did your part, now we must do our part. It’s, you did your part; now let us trust in your part.
And now, having justified us by your finished work, you’re perfecting us by your Holy Spirit. We who’ve been declared perfectly righteous will be made perfectly holy—not by our grit, but by your grace. One Day we’ll be as lovely and as loving as you, Lord Jesus. Justification now flows sweetly into sanctification; sanctification will eventuate into glorification, and glorification will be the beginning of our eternal vacation—a life of never-ending rest and worship, adventure and creativity, perfect relationships and perfect everything!
Even as we rest in your finished work, so we rejoice in your present reign, Lord Jesus. Atoned-for-sin will be abolished sin; already-defeated evil will be eradicated evil; vanquished enemies will be eliminated enemies. May the joy of this good news buckle our knees in humble adoration, and empower our hands for neighbor love.
As we are loved, so let us love; as we have been served, so let us serve; as we are encouraged, so let us encourage one another. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.


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A Weekly Routine Wearing Daily Tracks Of Grace On The Soul (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks writes about corporate worship training and equipping disciples of Jesus for their day to day life following Christ.

Part of [the church Hicks was attending at the time] weekly service structure was a rehearsal of repentance, a Confession of Sin and an Assurance of Pardon. Week in and week out, we would have a time in our service where we publicly spoke out a congregational confession, followed by a time of silent confession for each individual. These confessions were followed by the pastor declaring a scriptural assurance of our pardon, telling us our sins were forgiven because of the work of Jesus. Over time these weekly routines wore ruts into my soul, and I’d find them graciously haunting me the other six days of the week. I noticed that when I would stumble into sin, I had new instincts and a new inclination to confess my sin to God and preach to myself – really, to hear the Spirit preach to me – one of the verses the pastor would recite. I’d hear in my head and heart the words from our Sunday service: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV) Our weekly worship gatherings were teaching me how to repent and apply the gospel to my daily life any and every time the waves of guilt would hit me.

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pp 57-58.

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Cultivating A Heritage Of Forgiveness

This week’s Border Watch piece was a reflection on a parenting video I’d watched the week before.
The paper titled this ‘Actions Key To Forgiveness’.

It’s such an inescapable part of parenting that you think more people would tell you about it: at some point or another most parents will find themselves locked in the toilet with a wailing two or three year old outside the door demanding entry.
I was reminded about this, along with other universal experiences of parenting, while watching a talk by a young mother last week. Apart from the toilet experience, all parents will be confronted by situations in which their children do the wrong thing.
Most of us can remember our own childhoods when we transgressed and were told that we had to feel sorry. We may have been sent to our rooms, or threatened with some loss of privileges. But it was absolutely essential we had to feel sorry.
Pretty soon we learned the right expression of face and tone of voice that demonstrated an acceptable version of sorrow. We might have actually been more sorry that we’d been caught out, or were being punished; but we could stare at the floor, look miserable and utter the words ‘I’m sorry’.
The techniques have changed, and the circumstances are different, but the idea of teaching future generations to be sorry has continued, I think. And it’s important we learn to accept responsibility for doing something wrong.
But there’s something more important than feeling sorry. And that’s the need to be forgiven.
Forgiveness represents the resumption of relationship between the wrongdoer and the subject of their wrongdoing. It acknowledges the wrong, but doesn’t let that wrong control the future of the relationship.
We can try to tell someone to feel sorry, but how can we teach our children, or anyone else about the necessity to need forgiveness when they’ve wronged someone?
By our own example.
Parents need to show their own need for forgiveness. Often. We should ask for the forgiveness of our spouses, the forgiveness of others, and, most importantly, the forgiveness of our children themselves. Every ‘I’m sorry’ needs to be accompanied by a request for forgiveness. Because feeling sorry is just a start; it’s the restoration of the relationship that we long for.
A child can be trained to feel sorry, but they will only learn to desire forgiveness with all their heart when forgiveness is shown all around them, and when they are asked to forgive.
Some people think that following Jesus is about feeling sorry all the time. The more we can feel bad about ourselves the better.
But following Jesus is really about receiving forgiveness. Though we acknowledge our wrongdoings in sorrow, it’s the restored relationship of forgiveness that is our character. In the Bible we read: “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Forgiveness can’t be demanded, it can’t be bought, it can’t be earned. It simply has to be received. And then modelled again and again so that those around us absorb its relationship healing power.

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The Bali Executions And Breaking Cycles Of Retribution

This week’s article for The Border Watch is a response to the executions of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six others; along with the public reactions to the circumstances of their deaths.
The paper titled this one ‘Forgiveness Needed To Break Cycles Of Retribution’.

It is reported that eight voices, united in song in the middle of the night, fell silent as shots of gunfire burst forth. The song they were singing was ‘Bless The Lord, O My Soul.’ They had already sung ‘Amazing Grace’.
The executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran conjure a huge range of responses at individual and national levels. Even if you feel limited pity for them personally, surely sympathy flows for their families and loved ones as they grieve their loss. Six others died alongside them. The relationship between Australia and Indonesia will be marked by what has happened.
In times such as these deep convictions are expressed. Additionally, the manner in which those convictions are expressed demonstrates just how deeply we truly hold those values.
It is one thing to be committed to values of peace, justice, democracy and responsibility in civil expression. It is a test of those values if, when they are rejected by others, we resort to violent, forceful, overbearing and abusive means in our response. Do we really trust our values if we abandon them when we’re injured or threatened?
Like the champions of free speech who shout opposing points of view down, or proponents of tolerance who seek to marginalise those who differ from their point of view, what does it say about us if the very expression of our position looks more like the values we reject than the ones we defend?
There are cultures where shame is the tool and fear is the motivation. If injustice is done, an expression of anger or disgust is expressed. To receive this anger or disgust brings a loss of status. It also invites a reciprocation of anger and disgust, which can result in an escalating cycle of retribution.
It was in a culture like that that Jesus was executed. When he said ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’, he was not simply expending one of his final breaths on a sentimental expression. He was showing a different way to the cycle of abuse and retribution.
It was an example that his followers embraced and one that eventually became a cultural norm after countless numbers of his disciples died espousing forgiveness for those who persecuted them. They still do.
But there’s more to it than that. Chan and Sukumaran sang ‘Amazing Grace’, a song that speaks of undeserved redemption. A song that expresses that their hope beyond this life was not futile because of their wrongdoing, or based on any amount of good works or rehabilitation they had experienced in the meantime. The song cut short by gunfire ‘Bless The Lord, O My Soul’ expresses an expectation of praising God for ‘10,000 years and then forevermore’. They had asked for one form of mercy in this life and not received it. For Andrew Chan, and for some of the others, hope beyond this life was based on endless mercy extended by God through a relationship with Jesus.
In whatever way we strive for justice and peace, however we respond to hurt and wrong, there is an example that refuses to perpetuate a cycle of retribution, abuse and hate. It is the path we must follow as individuals and as a nation if we truly want others to join us.

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Everyday Resurrection Life

This week’s Border Watch article includes thoughts about the end of daylight saving and how meeting the resurrected Jesus manifests an everyday lifestyle of reconciliation and forgiveness.
The editor picked up on the association between resurrection and reconciliation in the paper’s title for the piece, which was nice.

So, last Sunday was my favourite day of the year for two reasons (in no particular order): daylight saving ended; and Christians celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
I really don’t enjoy daylight saving and am happy we can spend the next six months in normal time. Or what passes for normal time until our overlords in Adelaide decree we move our clocks forward or back by thirty minutes on a full-time basis. Moving our clocks forward or back (or back and forward, I can never remember which) is a temporary feature of life. Just wait six months and time will change again.
But for Christians the celebration of the resurrection is not confined to one day each year. Or one day each week. Or six months on and six months off. Encountering the risen Lord Jesus impacts every day of all our lives.
A very important way in which that impact shows is in the matter of reconciliation. Jesus demonstrates his power over death, but he then goes straight to the people who deserted him and let him down. He makes special mention of Peter who denied him three times. He comes to Thomas in spite of his doubts.
Think about it. Having been resurrected, Jesus could have gone off and found himself a new group of friends and left his old ones languishing. Surely you or I are tempted to do that to those who hurt us and let us down. But, instead, Jesus reveals himself to them, and to pretty much them alone. This act of revelation is a profound work of forgiveness and restoration.
The experience of this forgiveness and restoration is transformative. It is one of the reasons why the disciples came to understand that God is love. The risen Lord Jesus embraces those who fail and fall, not on the basis of their capacity to do better, but on the basis of that which he’d already done – overcome the grave.
Resurrection life is not a part-time affair; six months on, six months off. Nor is it marked by one day or one weekend of observances. It is an everyday, all of life reality, which, in the first instance, is marked by grace and love.
This is not an appeal to sentiment, a therapeutic motivation that tells us that forgiving others and loving them will make us feel better, or have various beneficial outcomes.
Rather it is the objective response to meeting the risen Lord Jesus. When he meets you, there is no other way to behave toward others than to be a loving reconciler. This is the resurrection life.
There are times and situations where Christians don’t live out this new life. Where past grievances and hurts take root and flourish. That’s why I love Easter Sunday, where we recall that the risen Jesus continues to meet us with forgiveness, acceptance and love; and then bids us live out this new reality in our lives for every day that follows.

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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 51

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 51

Q. What is the fifth petition?
A. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” That is: be pleased, for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to charge to us, miserable sinners, our many transgressions, nor the evil which still clings to us. We also find this witness of your grace in us: that it is our sincere intention heartily to forgive our neighbor.