Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Judgment and Forgiveness

Judgment and Forgiveness

Matthew 25:30 & Luke 23:34

The man who hid his talent was cast into outer darkness. Those who crucified our Lord heard the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

Which is it? Mercy or Justice? As a disciple of Christ should I imitate his exacting judgment or his incredible mercy?

Judgment needed
God has made clear to us, from the beginning, that judgment is certain. "God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7). There are no secrets (Luke 8:17). God will judge all of humanity by the man Christ Jesus (John 5:25-27). God's judgment is real and fearful. Those who are condemned will be punished in a lake of fire forever.

The fact of the judgment of God is a solemn one. God will soon take vengeance on the rebels and restore peace to the earth. This ought to inspire us to judge ourselves.

Forgiveness is only for the guilty
The plain truth is that we all need forgiveness -- whether we know it or not. We have all violated the inviolable laws of the universe. We have gone astray. Only after we recognize this reality do we begin to welcome and even seek forgiveness.

In a world without judgment, forgiveness doesn't make sense.  How can we value forgiveness if we will not admit that there is such a thing as morally wrong behavior? The only way to celebrate forgiveness while rejecting all judgment is to resort to mere sentimentality. If we're forgiven only because nothing is really wrong then forgiveness is cheap and meaningless.

Holding both ends
Acknowledging the nastiness of the wrong done and yet still offering forgiveness -- that is the beautiful thing.

Those who would be like Christ must treat sin very seriously and honestly while extending forgiveness freely. This is the path Jesus walked. He spoke freely and often of the sinfulness of sin and the punishment awaiting the wicked. He also forgave freely. He is our example.