The Art of Forgiveness

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Jess
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:38 pm

The Art of Forgiveness

Post by Jess » Mon May 18, 2009 10:28 pm

I picked this category for a new question. I hope it is the right spot. It has to do with forgiveness. We are currently going through a book on Sunday mornings by Lewis Smedes called "The Art of Forgiveness" We have had great discussions so far and some interesting questions. I really enjoyed listening to Steve's lecture on "Refusing to take Offense" which is along the same lines of the book, although not completely.
This past week we talked about Smedes' assertion that there is a difference between "forgiveness" and "reconciliation". He states that we can forgive someone without them actually asking for repentence and without there being a restoration of the relationship.
This past week I tried to find some scriptural support for this contention and am not sure I can actually say that this is a Biblical concept. One of the difficulties is that his use of the word "forgiveness" seems to encompass more than what is generally implied by scripture. Webster describes two main uses of the word. The first is the idea of canceling an obligation or a dept or granting a pardon. The second is the idea of forgoing feelings of resentment or ill will towards the perpetrator of the offense. While I see many examples of the first in scripture I am not sure I see examples of the latter, at least not described as "forgiveness". We are told to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give our cloak as well as our shirt (Matt 5:39-42). We are encouraged, as far as it depends on us, to live peaceably with others (Rom 12:18), we are told to love (with all that word entails) our enemies as ourselves (Matt 5:44). Paul says that we are not to look out for our own interests but consider others' interests as more important than ours (Phil 2:3-4). All these, it seems to me, deal with what Steve calls "not taking offense" and what Jesus meant when he gave us a "New Commandment", that we love others even as He loved us (John 13:34-35). They are not described as examples of forgiveness, however.
I guess my contention is this: While the idea of not harboring ill will or seeking revenge for those who harm us is indeed biblical, it is not the same thing as forgiveness. God's forgiveness of His people required their repentance, their acknowledging their own sin and turning back to Him (2 Chron 7:14, Isaiah 6:5-7 etc.) His requirement of us to forgive others also seems to be tied directly with idea of reconcilliation (Matt 5:23-4, Matt 18:15-22). Paul also tells the Corinthians, when the guy who was sleeping with his stepmother repented, that they should NOW forgive him and restore him to fellowship (2 Cor 2:6-8).
So, am I off base? Am I missing scriptures that show we do indeed forgive (not just let go of hate, resentment and a desire for revenge) even though there is no reconciliation? Or is the concept of "forgiveness by us without reconciliation" not actually how the bible uses the term "forgiveness"? (Hope I've made this clear enough, if not, let me know...and thanks in advance for your input)

In Him,

Jess

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Homer
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Re: The Art of Forgiveness

Post by Homer » Tue May 19, 2009 11:25 am

Hi Jess,

I'm not sure if this is an answer to what you are getting at, but Jesus gave permission to divorce an unfaithful spouse. It seems to me He would not have given what seems to be a blanket permission to divorce if forgiveness, which is required, included reconciliation. That said, I do think that forgiveness and reconciliation is the ideal in cases of infidelity, while divorce by the innocent party is acceptable.

We had a rather lengthy discussion of what it means to forgive on the old forum; perhaps you can find it.

God bless, Homer

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TK
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Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:42 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: The Art of Forgiveness

Post by TK » Tue May 19, 2009 12:31 pm

Hopefully Paidion will chime in. In the old forum discussion (which i believe was lost in the great crash) i think he held the position what true forgiveness is not possible (in the biblical sense) unless there is true repentance on the part of the offending person, because only then can reconciliation occur. But i certainly dont want to speak for Paidion.

TK

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Michelle
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Re: The Art of Forgiveness

Post by Michelle » Tue May 19, 2009 2:03 pm

It's in the miscellaneous forum (page 4), and here's a link.

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Paidion
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Re: The Art of Forgiveness

Post by Paidion » Tue May 19, 2009 5:18 pm

From the way you describe your own view, Jess, I think my own belief about forgiveness is identical.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 81.

Jess
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:38 pm

Re: The Art of Forgiveness

Post by Jess » Tue May 19, 2009 6:32 pm

Paidion, Homer, TK and Michelle,

Thanks all for your input. I just checked out the link you supplied, Michelle. Nine Pages long!! Guess I have some reading ahead of me. Thanks again.

Jess

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