“The Tough and Tender Side of Forgiveness”
At #5, Vertical Forgiveness says, “Rather than seeking vengeance, the believer releases the penalty to God.” These verses deal with vengeance not penalty or consequences. We don’t take matters into our own hands but part of putting it into God’s hands might include putting it into the hands of law enforcement. I’m so afraid that this “releasing penalty to God” will cause some Christians to ignore sin thinking that God will take care of it when God’s already put in place a system to take care of sins.
Chuck Phelps goes into the definitions of love. I’m not sure why this Greek lesson is necessary to understanding “tough love.”
“Love must be tough”
#1 – Why do feelings have to be overcome before confronting an offense or sin?
#2 – Why can’t I offer forgiveness before it’s asked for?
a. He says it’s because it “robs the offender of the lessons of guilt.” No, the lack of relationship due to unresolved sin is what might bring conviction but there is nothing wrong with letting the offender know that forgiveness will be granted or is being offered if offender asks.
b. Is waiting for someone to ask for our forgiveness the only model that we’ve been given? No, on the Cross, God gave us the example of forgiveness offered before it was asked for or even before we realized we needed it.
#3 – We may need to confront
a. Matthew 18:5-6 says nothing about confronting sinner, he probably means vs. 15-16.
b. Matthew 5: 23-24 says if you know someone has something against you, get it resolved.
c. Luke 17:3 says that if a brother sins, confront him. The sin does not have to be against you to confront him.
#4 – Cover offenses
a. I Peter 4:8 does not say we hide sin. It has the idea of not being offended by everything a person does. We love in Christ and are not selfish and think of others before ourselves.
b. “don’t confront unless good for the offender” – confrontation of sin is always good for the offender, even if the penalty of sin does not seem like it, the purpose is restoration of relationship with God, that makes confrontation good.
Forgiveness is a tough subject and sometimes misunderstood or misapplied. We sometimes forget to make a difference between a crime (breaking the law and a sin against a person) being committed against someone and an offense (may or may not be a sin) committed against someone whether intentional or not. There needs to be a distinction between these two things and how forgiveness should work in these two different situations.
I’m going to put together my own lesson and how I’d address forgiveness if I was leading this class.