Turning Forgiveness Around

by Greg Gwin

We hear it frequently in the news these days.  It has been a common defense in some high-profile criminal cases.  The basic argument is that people can be excused for committing even hideous crimes if they can demonstrate that something awful happened in their past.  Unfortunately, this approach has proven successful in our perverted justice system.  Murders, kidnappers, and sexual offenders of every sort have been set free or have had their sentences reduced.  As a result, we are seeing more and more criminals rush to assume “victim” status.

It is happening in the church, too.  It is not uncommon for sinful brethren to attempt to “turn the tables” on those who are trying to restore them.

  • “You didn’t show the proper love toward me;”
  • “You were unkind and didn’t help me enough when I needed you;”
  • “You were too harsh in the way you rebuked me;”  etc., etc., etc.

You see, they have learned how to become the “victims.”

We agree that brethren can sometimes approach situations in the wrong way.  All of us need to show love, forbearance, patience, and kindness.  Sometimes we fail in these things.  Everyone can do better.

But, we are weary of sinners turning the whole matter of forgiveness around.  If they have their way, the faithful ones are forced to beg them for forgiveness, while their own sins are ignored.  This simply will not work!

Observe the case of Peter rebuking Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18-24).  Simon was told that “wickedness” and a bad heart had left him in the “gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.”  Surely he could have complained about Peter’s harsh words or unloving manner.  Undoubtedly he could have countered with accusations about how he had been mistreated by others.  Instead, he humbly accepted the rebuke and requested prayer.

Sinners in the church today need to learn a lesson from him.

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