Monday, August 08, 2005

CQOD: 08/09/05 -- Thomas à Kempis: excusing others

Christian Quotation of the Day

August 9, 2005
Feast of Mary Sumner, Founder of the Mothers’ Union, 1921
    "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
    "The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
    "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
    "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
    "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
    "Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
    "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
    -- Matt. 18:23-35

    Thou knowest well how to excuse and color thine own deeds; but thou art not willing to receive the excuses of others. It were more just that thou shouldest accuse thyself, and excuse thy brother.
    ... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ, II.iii. [1418]

Quiet time reflection:
    Must I forgive the undeserving?

See Believer's Desktop Companion 2004

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In God's economy, there are none that are undeserving. If looked at in that way, then there really isn't anybody that we shouldn't forgive, although this can be very difficult depending on the offense.

August 11, 2005 at 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume that pope68 meant to say that none are deserving. Which is true. Perhaps the meditative phrase would be better expressed by asking, Must I forgive the unrepentant?

Though our hearts must always be ready to forgive and must not harbor ill will toward anyone, we must look to how God forgives to answer also how we must forgive others. God only forgives the repentant, so his people must do likewise.

August 11, 2005 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I meant "undeserving". I think in God's way of doing things, there is no one that is undeserving or not worthy of forgiveness. Although the opposite could be said as well, since none of us deserved to really have our sins forgiven (what we really deserved was hell, but God in His infinite grace and mercy thought otherwise). I also don't think God only forgives the repentant, because if we look to Jesus on the cross, He asked God to forgive those who persecuted him (Luke 23:34). No doubt, forgiveness is a hard thing.

August 12, 2005 at 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, thanks for the clarification.

How and when was Jesus' prayer on the cross answered? Was it not on the Day of Pentecost, when the people to whom Peter and the eleven preached repented and were baptized and thus were forgiven of their sins? (Acts 2: 38). Again, there is no example in the NT that God ever forgave someone who was unrepentant. All evidence is to the contrary.


August 12, 2005 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randal, to your question of when the people were forgiven, I can't answer that. I don't know exactly when God forgave them; the text doesn't indicate it. I'm certainly not suggesting that God just forgives people carte blanche whether there is repentance or not, but at the same time, I can't say He WON'T forgive someone upon whom one of His faithful children asks forgiveness. I think that's part of the mystery of God's infinite mercy and compassion. But at the same time, I am in no way making an argument for people not having to repent in order to come to Christ. Of course we do, but I don't think God views forgiveness the same way that we do. In the gospels I see instances of Jesus instructing His followers to forgive where repentance is evident as well as when it may not be evident (see Matt. 6:14-15; Mark 11:24-25; Luke 6:36-37; John 20:23; II Cor. 2:5-11).

August 15, 2005 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morning, pope, I hope you are well today. In which instance would you say Jesus urged forgiveness without evidence of repentance? And, also, where is there any evidence of God forgiving without it? Your mention of Jesus' prayer that God forgive, however we may identify the moment of forgiveness, is not an example of it being done. The request is not the fact of it.

Have a great day today!

August 15, 2005 at 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randal, you're absolutely right about the moment of forgiveness versus it actually being done. Personally, I think what we're to be concerned with is the act itself. The actual conferring of forgiveness on another by God, is God's business. I think what God is concerned with is the state of our hearts and our willingness to forgive others and release them from indebtedness. Forgiveness is more of a heart issue for the forgiver and once I have forgiven someone, I leave the matter in God's hands. Forgivness relieves me from the obligation of figuring out when someone is actually forgiven by God. I think there's too much left unsaid in many (not all) of the Biblical texts for us to be able to say the exact moment when God forgave someone in each instance.

August 16, 2005 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that repentence is mandatory for forgiveness, but I am uncomfortable at determining whether some people are repentent or not. Some folks may look contrite, but may be only play acting. Others may be unrepentent in my presence, but may have a change of heart later on when they are alone. I'd rather ask for the grace to forgive the person for the wrong done to me and leave the judgment of the other person's heart to God.

August 16, 2005 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky, I agree. That's one thing that I had to learn. I wanted to SEE repentance in people and what I wanted was behavior that I thought indicated true repentance. But the fact is, we can't know a person's heart and like you said, the person could be acting. I like what you said about asking God for the grace to forgive.

August 17, 2005 at 7:39 AM  

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