Who needs forgiveness?

Man holds forgiveness sign

We have rid our culture of so much religion that we can miss the principles Jesus is teaching because the context has changed-

 “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’

Matthew 9:12

We don’t offer sacrifices and we have a culture that is learning to receive everyone. So, it looks like, job done. However, looking at the principle that follows, I see a challenge.

For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Matthew 9:13

In our time people excuse themselves of anything. Behaviour is explained away by a painful past or challenging circumstances. People may not think of themselves as righteous but struggle to accept an identity of sinner.

So, here Jesus offers mercy and we are so self-satisfied that we can look at the mess we are creating and say we need help or counselling or anything but forgiveness and mercy. Only when we are willing to take responsibility for our actions will we recognise that what we have done is so bad Jesus had to die for it. Only then can we accept the need of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and receive his mercy.

Brothers who hurt us

How do we relate with those who have hurt us? Most focus on the person and the offence. What happens when we bring in Jesus’ perspective.

Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, whose slave had run away to Paul and through Paul had come to faith. He sends the slave back with an appeal to Philemon for mercy. I have adjusted the letter to make it from Jesus to you, the hurt one, on behalf of the one who has caused you grief. Try reading it, inserting your own name, and the name of the one who caused grief –

To (Your name here),

Grace and peace to you.

I am always thankful when I remember you … accordingly, even though I could command you, for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you. I appeal to you for my child (The name of one causing grief), whose father I have become. I am sending him to you, sending my very heart.  … I prefer to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

So, if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Jesus, write this with my own hand: I will repay it – to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, dear one, I want some benefit from you! Refresh my heart through my power.       

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.