Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Forgiveness: what does it say in your Bible?

A church member had fallen out with his grown up son. The fault was largely the son’s. He had left home and made rather a mess of his life. However, realising the error of his ways, the son wished to be reconciled to his father. The father was having none of it. He turned his son away, refusing to have anything to do with him.

In desperation the son asked his father’s pastor to see what he could do to heal the family rift. The wise old minister visited the unforgiving man. He knew just the Scripture that would speak directly to the situation. It was Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal son.
The pastor began to read the passage to his church member, but he took the liberty of altering Jesus’ parable. Rather than the father welcoming the prodigal son with open arms, his version went like this, “The father told his son that he was not welcome home, ‘You have done wrong in wasting your share of the family inheritance. Now you must live with the consequences. Be gone!’” The pious church member piped up, “Hey, that’s not what is says in my Bible.” “Oh yes it is!” Replied the minister. The penny dropped. The unforgiving father had allowed his resentment at his son’s behaviour to govern his life rather than the Bible. Thus rebuked, he forgave his son and they were reconciled.

It is all to easy to pay lip service to the Bible while failing to live out its teaching, especially when its teaching is hard for us to put into practice. Perhaps that is especially the case when it comes to forgiving others who have wronged us in some way. We ask God to forgive our sins and he does because Christ died that we might be forgiven. If that is the case, then we should be quick to offer forgiveness to others, costly thought that may be. Being a Christian is all about receiving and giving forgiveness, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32). Is that what it says in your Bible?

For News & Views, West Lavington parish magazine.

1 comment:

Andy Williamson said...

It definitely says that in my Bible.

It seems like the father in the story was more of an "elder brother" rather than the father in the parable changed by the minister.
The parable of the two sons wasn't so much aimed at just for "sinners" but was targeted at the pharisees who were blinded by their own self righteousness.

As I understand it, whenever I'm drawn to self-righteousness (which is often) I am taken back to the sheer grace of the gospel and that my sin against God is infinitely greater than anyones "sin" against me.

Andy W