Character Trait No. 27
Definition: Overlooking another’s faults by means of expressing to him Christ’s love (responding as if there were no faults)
“....bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Col. 3:13
Once we realize that a person is completely changed at immersion into a new creature, then the challenge comes in treating the new babe in Christ as such. Our physical eyeball view of the newly immersed individual shows no change whatsoever. Tom or Sally still looks exactly like Tom or Sally, except perhaps for a big smile. The fruit of the Spirit will show the change, eventually, but not immediately. In pagan countries and in the early church days, many times men took on a new “Christian” name to show their new identity with Christ. Yet one can see from the list of names in Romans 16, for instance, that this was often not so.
The inward transformation can only be identified by faith in God’s promises as revealed in Scripture. All that really lasts and matters is spiritual, and hence, invisible. We walk by faith, not sight. Therefore, when a sinner like Jeffrey Dalmer, the homosexual cannibal-killer, (who kept body parts of his young victims in his freezer), repented and was immersed, we are forced to examine our beliefs about forgiveness. Do we really believe that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumble in on point, he has become guilty of all”? James 2:10 Is all sin really the same in the eyes of God? Or do we stumble in forgiving certain classes or types of sin that are socially repugnant or don’t tempt us?
Every society has had politically correct lists of acceptable or unacceptable social behaviors. Slavery used to considered normal in most of the civilized and undeveloped world alike. Polygamy was/is considered normal in Africa and has always been an anathema in America. Until recently when modern child labor laws have been enacted, children have been workers in most societies. In many cultures through the ages, even ritual murder has been considered a sacred duty, such as when Hindu Indian mothers sacrificed their babies to the sacred Ganges River. Or the Aztecs slaughtered thousands of captured victims to their Sun god, cutting the still-pumping hearts from live victims! Servants and wives have been buried with chiefs in African societies since Egyptian times, and also among the Celtic tribes of Ireland and England. Disfigurement of babies for religious reasons was common among certain tribes in Ghana. And on and on we could go. So the question really is - what is truly the “unforgivable sin/s” of society? Doesn’t the list constantly change depending on the times and fads of life?
In order to be forgiving people, we must understand one important point, as King David clearly understood after sinning with Bathsheba:
“Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge.” Psa.51:3
We do not sin against society or humanity, but against the Creator Himself! “Humanity” is not the judge of the universe. It is merely a conglomeration of individual sinners. In actuality society cannot judge any one individual as guilty of anything. Jesus condemned such hypocrisy when he challenged the first guiltless individual to cast the first stone at the trapped adulteress. None could meet his challenge!
Law and justice derives its rightful authority from God alone and none other. What is truly right and wrong is decided in the heavenly court of judgement by God Himself, rather than some “peoples’” tribunal or some other such other communistic kangaroo court. All righteous and fair human laws are derived from God’s holy character. That is why the American Constitution says that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain fundamental rights. Man cannot give man rights because they must come from One who is superior. Only He who made all things has the right to say “what is what” about how things should or should not be. Mankind arrogates for himself such authority without grave consequences. For instance, Hitler legally, as head of the German State, ordered the death of six million Jews! But not morally or rightfully in eyes of the Unseen Watcher in the sky or created those souls. Germany was completely humiliated and destroyed as result of such madness and Hitler, and his minions are burning in hell forever. Man cannot legislate morality. It comes from above.
So how does all this apply to an ordinary guy like you, a humble member of Christ’s church? Here’s how - You cannot fail to forgive those whom the Great God of the universe has forgiven. Forgive not, and He’ll not forgive you. Our God was nailed on a cross and freely forgave those Jewish and Roman God-killers by simply saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Lk. 23:34 He practiced what he preached to Peter about forgiving “seventy times seven.” He was despised, shamed, and totally maligned and rejected by those whom He came to save by showing them God’s beautiful true character. Then finally tortured to death... and he just forgave them! This grace is especially revealed when the gospel of grace was presented to them fifty days later at Pentecost after his resurrection.
We must not, like Satan, be accusers of the brethren. Rather, offering hope, truth and love to our fellow saints. Uplifting fellow pilgrims tired and much-harassed by the enemies of truth and Satanic forces of evil. Not judgmentally throwing hateful rocks of condemnation upon fellow saints upon whom God has said, “There is now no condemnation on those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom.8:1
We must offer grace to those who need it the most. It is the “grossest” sinners, the very sickest spiritually whom the great Physician most wants to forgive and transform into children of light. Jesus did not come to heal the healthy! Anyone who understands his own miserable condition apart from the grace of God will say about any criminal or person caught in sin: “There also go I but for the grace of God.” This essay is not about the conditions needed for forgiveness to be granted, but about our attitude of being forgiving people. Being perfect as our heavenly Father demands a forgiving spirit as demonstrated by the first Christian, Jesus Christ. Take on this characteristic, saint, as you develop the perfect character of Christ and prepare to meet Him in glory