On Forgiveness

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Just a heads up – this is a bit longer of a post than normal

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15)

These words of Jesus Christ are haunting ones. Here we learn that divine forgiveness is not unconditional. For me, as I read them, a sneaking anxiety compels me to look over my life – to inquire whether there are any grudges I am holding onto. Or perhaps I have forgotten to forgive someone, having moved on emotionally, and that unforgiveness sits deep under the sediment of my psyche like a long buried and forgotten city. Am I competent and diligent enough to dig through to these hidden places, secret to myself though always present to the Divine Eye before whom the entire work of my life stands bare? What even is forgiveness? Do I know how to forgive? How do I forgive those who have not asked for it? Who have no desire to be forgiven? Those who show no signs of remorse or repentance for what they’ve done to me?

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A Sermon on 2 Cor 5 and Forgiveness

What is reconciliation? What is forgiveness? What does any of it have to do with Jesus? And why in the world should it matter to any of you?

In a letter to one of the earliest Christian communities, the theologian Paul writes:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Paul is writing here to a group of Christ-followers located in the ancient city of Corinth. He had an intimate and at times conflict-laden relationship with this motley crew of Christians. Right now is one of those times of conflict. The Corinthians have brought into question Paul’s authenticity and authority regarding what has happened to the world on account of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Here in this letter Paul is making his appeal to the Corinthians.

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