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Love Forgives

May 12, 2016 | by: Mike Law | 0 Comments

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Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As many of you may know, my small group has been working through 1 Corinthians 13 with the help of Phil Ryken’s book Loving the Way Jesus Loves. It has been encouraging to think about love from different angles and, in particular, what love looks like in practice. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspect of practicing love is practicing forgiveness. Love forgives. As Christians, we know that love forgives because we’ve been forgiven. We even know that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13), but that doesn’t make it easy. In his book Phil Ryken reflects on the Lord Jesus’ forgiveness of Peter after denying him three times. I found Ryken’s reflections quite helpful and so I wanted to share a few paragraphs with you.

One of the first things that we need to understand about forgiveness is that when we forgive we recognize that a wrong has truly been done. We don’t pretend that nothing has happened. Consider how Ryken recognizes the wrong that Peter committed (how he sinned against Jesus):

“Usually we think of Peter as committing one sin three times, but in fact he was guilty of committing many sins, which he committed repeatedly. Obviously, Peter was guilty of betrayal; he betrayed his commitment to Christ by denying that he had any relationship with Jesus at all. This was partly a sin of lying. Rather than saying what was true, Peter bore witness to something false. It was a sin of profanity: by calling down curses, he was taking the name of the Son of God in vain. Add to this the sin of idolatry: Peter prized his own safety and security more than the worship of the one true God. His sin was also a failure to evangelize. Peter was so busy trying to save his own neck that he missed an opportunity to testify to the saving power and gracious mercy of Jesus Christ” (p. 166).

Ryken goes on to point out that in between the time that Peter sinned against Jesus in all these ways and their next conversation, Jesus died for Peter’s sins (all of them!). Then he reflects on Jesus’ restoration of Peter, particularly his forgiveness of Peter:

“It is worth noticing what Jesus did not say. He did not condemn Peter for his denials. He did not tell him that he was going to have to earn his way back into discipleship. He did not speak to Peter hurtfully or resentfully at all, the way most people would if they had been treated as badly by someone as Peter had treated Jesus. The fact that Jesus did not say any of these things proved that Peter was forgiven, in the full and biblical sense of the word. Jesus was not keeping a permanent record of Peter’s wrongs. He was not holding Peter’s sin against him but instead was showing his non-resentful love. Rather than reckoning Peter’s transgression against him, Jesus reckoned that Peter’s account had been fully settled on the cross where he had died for Peter’s sins. As a result, Peter experienced the loving forgiveness that God shows to everyone who believes in him” (p.170).

I pray that we would know, understand, rejoice in, rest on, and depend upon our loving and forgiving Savior. May we love like he loves and forgive like he forgives.

Warmly in Christ,

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