Friday, May 6, 2011

Sam Storms on Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Isn't

Sam Storms article is helpful in many ways, but for me he did not go far enough in his description of the forgiveness I hope for and strive to give. I pray we can go far beyond the idea that “Forgiveness simply means that you determine in your heart to let God be the avenger.” Perhaps that is a starting point. I would argue that forgiveness means that you hope in your heart and act as though God has already avenged the sin in Christ’s death on the cross. Just as our sins were borne in the body of Christ, so also the sins against us are also on the cross if our offender puts their faith in Christ now or in the future – and shouldn’t we hope for that?

I think Storms comes closest to the heart of the matter when he says “True forgiveness is not satisfied with simply canceling the debt. It longs to love again.” But what does that look like? Storms focuses on the relationship with the unrepentant offender. What about the offender that is repentant and desires full restoration? Complete restoration is rare even between Christians. Our love for one another is limited by the hurt and anger that we cannot release.

This world is not heaven and our hearts have only barely begun to be transformed into what we shall be, but shouldn’t we strive for our relationships here and now to be growing toward what they will be in eternity? Consider how we will love those in heaven who hurt us very deeply in this life. In eternity, our love for one another will not be colored in anyway by past hurts. Striving for that level of love is how forgiveness can be fully realized here and now.

More thoughts on forgiveness in this post.

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