“Dad, I’m sorry. I know your mad, but I really am sorry. That signed Babe Ruth baseball meant a lot to you and I shouldn’t have used it!”
Other than reminding the culturally sensitive of the smash hit The Sandlot, this plea spills from the heart of a boy in anguish. He’s broken. He knows he was wrong and owns it.
What follows from dad’s lips will either crush or comfort the boy.
If dad were to mumble, “Whatever, go continue playing ball,” this boy would be confused. But if dad declared, “Son I love you. And although what you did was wrong and it hurt me, I forgive you completely,” this son would be overjoyed!
Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 gets this.
He highlights that this community of Christians has been hurt by the sin of one of their own. Not only does it hurt their spiritual dad’s heart (Paul’s) but it hurts the whole.
He explains that if this sinner confesses and is truly sorry, the punishment of judgement by the community is sufficient. Rather than berating the individual, Paul charges this Christians to “forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.”
Finally, Paul finished his counsel noting that forgiveness is spiritual warfare, for if we don’t forgive, we are disobedient to Christ and allowing satan to outwit us.
We’ve all been there: someone is earnestly seeking our forgiveness and we have the choice to free them with a clear declaration or to enslave them by mumbling “whatever, it’s fine.”
What the writer Paul understands is that weak forgiveness gives birth to excessive sorrow in the heart of the repentant sinner.
So next time someone asks you for forgiveness, make it a bold and clear and convicting “Yes!”
Now, if you’re this truly sorry sinner who feels the weight of excessive sorrow caused by unclear forgiveness, I’d encourage you NOT to bitterly speak harsh things of this person but to directly speak to them face to face. Reiterate your sin, guilt and the need to hear their absolution. This will be amazingly freeing.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” 1 John 1:9.
God cannot be clearer! If you have excessive sorrow over sin you committed against God, it’s either because you have not confessed this or because you do not take God at his word: that in Jesus we have FULL, 100% forgiveness for sin.
This is why as Christians by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are able to forgive others of the most egregious offenses.
It is clear. It is bold. It is an unmistakable exclamation:
GOD, IN CHRIST, HAS FORGIVEN YOU OF ALL YOUR SIN!