Day 25

A Sinner Forgiven

from the 1 & 2 Corinthians reading plan


2 Corinthians 2:5-17, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:12-17

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-17, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:12-17

For weeks, I have grappled with these passages in 2 Corinthians. Forgiveness is such a complicated, messy, and integral part of the Christian faith. And if I’m honest, I don’t know if I understand how it works, or whether I’m practicing it well in my life.

When I really let myself think about forgiveness, it touches raw nerves. It calls up painful memories of the times I’ve been hurt, and the times I’ve done the hurting. And that doesn’t feel good. In fact, I’d rather just forget about those parts of my life and move on.

But contrary to popular belief, Jesus does not call us to “forgive and forget.” Christian forgiveness does not require rose-colored glasses or some “spiritual” version of denial. What it does require is faith that if Jesus has carried the weight of our sin, He can also carry the weight of our wounds.

God doesn’t minimize our offenses. He doesn’t wave them away with a magic wand of denial. Nor does He offer empty cop-outs. Instead, He enacted an eternal, and costly, plan to set things right.

The God-man of great sorrow, Jesus, was well acquainted with the evil of this world (Isaiah 53:3), and He refused to ignore it. Instead, He chose to bear the debt on His own back. Knowing that God could not be in the presence of unholy people, Jesus put on our unholiness and gave us His perfect record in return. The sin was heavy, and Jesus carried it, though He didn’t resent us while carrying the cross. He didn’t wait for us to ask Him to do it, either. He forgave us before we even knew we needed forgiveness—because He loved us first.

As impossible as it sometimes feels, we are called to emulate Christ. “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Still, forgiveness is not easy. It does not eliminate pain. Forgiveness is an active, voluntary choice to carry the weight of someone else’s sin. It does not guarantee that we will be reconciled to that person, nor that the relationship will ever be the same. Forgiveness says, “You no longer have to make up for what you did to me. I will carry the cost.”

But I’m not Jesus. So even my ability to forgive is imperfect. One of Jesus’ disciples once asked whether it was fair to forgive someone seven times, and Jesus replied,

“I tell you, not as many as seven… but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).

I don’t believe that is a call to be abused over and over again by the same person. In my life, that has meant actively forgiving someone for the same crime, even as I find myself feeling resentful again. When the bitterness returns, I can choose to let that old wound fester, or I can put on the salve of forgiveness. There may still be a scar, but I am no longer keeping the wound open in order to prove how much I’ve been hurt.

When forgiveness is hard, faith reminds me to focus less on what someone did to me, and more on what Jesus did for me. It is in that posture of humility that I can bring my wounds and my sins back to the feet of Jesus. It is there that He reminds me that even when my suffering feels heavy, He is the one who ultimately carries it all.

SRT-Corinthians-Shareimage-Day25

Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

Post Comments (73)

73 thoughts on "A Sinner Forgiven"

  1. ioa a pavel says:

    amen

  2. Monica Davis says:

    Forgiveness is hard.

  3. Kayla says:

    “He didn’t wait for us to ask Him to do it, either. He forgave us before we even knew we needed forgiveness—because He loved us first.” This got me to thinking about the different types of forgiveness, not just the blatant, “I know I hurt you, will you forgive me” forgiveness, but also forgiveness for those who are not aware they hurt us. As I often do, I landed on some articles by John Piper and wanted to share.

    “My number one responsibility before God and my number one challenge in holiness is not getting others changed but getting myself changed so that I respond in godly, Christlike, humble, loving ways even if what is being said is hurtful. One of the main obstacles to forgiving, forbearing, returning good for evil, blessing those who hurt us, is that if we truly and authentically do this, then very few people, if anybody, will know that we have been hurt. And that is the challenge.

    For most of us, we want the person who has wounded us to be aware that they have wounded us, and we don’t want to act in a way that looks as if they didn’t hurt us — that looks as if it makes light of the fact that they wounded us or insulted us or put us down or criticized us in an inappropriate way or cheated on us. And all of this is a huge obstacle to obeying the Lord when he says, “Do not return evil for evil, but bless those who do you harm”

    The key is how important and how satisfying it is that God knows we have been hurt, that God understands and God attends to us. God feels with us. Is that enough? If we’re honest in examining this question, our hearts tend to be oriented more on other people than on God. 1 Peter 2:19 says, “This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” God delights in it. We are pleasing God at that moment. So, is it enough for God to know our sorrow, for God to know our pain, for God to know our disappointment, our frustration? Can we hand our cause entirely over to God? Can we move forward treating others better than they treat us, even if it means only God knows and nobody else? That is how real God has to become to us for us to truly forgive.”

    This has given me much to think about today. I am thankful that God works within us for good and will see us to completion. I pray I can focus on what Christ has done for me rather than what others have done to me, and learn to lay my hurt and burdens on God. When I carry them around with me, they can be used to stir my heart to sin against those who have hurt me, but when they are left with God, the only thing I’ll have left to offer those people, is the love of Christ.

    1. Kara says:

      Powerful! I’ve been struggling with bitterness for some people who hurt me. I’m realizing I need to forgive even if God is the only one who sees. Something to pray about…

  4. Adrienne Staton says:

    Sometimes there are messages you just need to hear or read. This message seems important as of late. Last week our pastor was talking about 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love keeps no records of wrongs.” He said that at times if you are keeping a record that the weight of all that can feel like a backpack filled with rocks that you are ready to throw later. I wept, all too often I find it easy to forgive others, but the most difficult to forgive myself. This is an absolutely wonderful message and thank you for sharing.

  5. Andreina says:

    Thank you! <3

  6. Erin Emmerich says:

    My husbands dad was very hurtful to their family and after leaving them for the last time he developed cancer. My husband had forgiven him but God challenged him even further to love him. Love him just as a man, not a a father who hurt him time and time again, but as a creation of God. He realized though he forgave him he didn’t love him totally. Before his dad passed away he was able to share a song he wrote for him and tell him he loved him… I feel that this forgiveness toward his father was an essential step before being able to love him the way Jesus called us to love others, even our enemies.

    1. Bunny Perry says:

      That is so awesome that he was able to forgive and love his Dad before he passed. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Sandy Forsythe says:

      Praise Jesus!
      I bet the song would ring true for multitudes of people!!
      I hope he publishes it!

    3. Tara Gillaspie says:

      Beautiful! And so true it!

    4. Annesta Lunde says:

      This is a beautiful testimony of the power of God’s grace and comfort to a believer who is the true fragrance of God. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Erin Emmerich says:

        My pleasure :) God is so good!

  7. Carol Pierce says:

    Forgiveness is about Christ. It’s not about the hurt or the person who executed the hurt. Do I love Christ enough to obey him? Thank you ladies for your faithful teaching of Scripture. The reminders of Truth lived in our daily lives mean so much & help to keep my feet on the “narrow way”.

    1. Ashley Bell says:

      I just want to add that our hurt and the depth of that hurt magnifies what Jesus did for us. We should see that forgiveness isn’t easy and for most of us it’s a process as we are constantly being renewed in our spirit and mind. It is challenging to separate hurt from just being obedient . So if anyone is experiencing that you are not alone and God will get you to the place. He loves you.

  8. Micayla Angel says:

    I was very moved by this devotional, but have to admit I am struggling with the author’s definition of forgiveness as being a “voluntary choice to carry the weight of someone else’s sin.” I believe this is Jesus’ role as the sacrifice for humanity, but not our role. I can’t carry the weight of my own sin, let alone anyone else’s! We are called to cast our burdens upon Jesus. I agree that forgiveness requires releasing the other person from any debt towards us, but I believe we are to give that burden to the Lord, not carry it ourselves. I understand the message the author is saying here but some of this wording does not sit right with me. Anyone else have some insight on this?

    1. Sarah D. says:

      I felt that way too, Micayla. The wording there is a little confusing to me…but I think the main thing (that I’ve learned) is to forgive because it sets you free from anger/bad feelings towards the person, and not letting those feelings or thoughts about them rule over your life anymore. I agree too, that as we forgive, we should then give the burden over to God and let Him handle the rest.

    2. Jamie C says:

      I was feeling the same as you Micayla. I actually wrote the author’s definition down, circled it and wrote a big question mark. ??????

    3. Jen says:

      I understood the writer to be sharing that forgiveness is always a choice. We chose to forgive, it doesn’t just happen. And when we make the active choice to forgive we know the person that sinned against us my not have asked to be forgiven, we except that it happened (we carry it) but we have chosen to forgive anyway. By forgiving as God told us he wanted us to do it is all carried by God. If we forgive He forgives. I think this is why it is a choice. Just like excepting Christ is a choice. That is how I understand it.

    4. Katelyn Kenney says:

      I connect with what you’re saying here about casting our burdens on Jesus. Forgiveness is one of those tricky things that’s way harder in practice when you’ve actually been hurt by someone. Maybe carrying the cost can be interpreted as bearing the story or holding onto the truth of a situation. I’m really not sure. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say we can only truly let past transgressions go to God when we forgive the transgressor.

    5. Alice Carroll says:

      Hiya, I think that it means this. If someone were to deliberately scrape my car and I chose to forgive them, then they don’t pay for the paint job, but I carry the weight of it. In the same way, if I’m hurt emotionally and forgive, then I give up the right to retribution and carry the weight of the pain they have inflicted on me. So the weight of the sin is not like Jesus, as He alone takes away sin, but it is the weight of having to deal with someone else’s wrong doing. Hope that makes some sense!

      1. Micayla Angel says:

        Thank you!

    6. Annesta Lunde says:

      I had the same questions. I’m still thinking about this essay and praying the Holy Spirit will guide me in understanding and application.

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