February 22, 2009

Forgiving Others

I found this excerpt in yesterday's reading of The Institutes of The Christian Religion by John Calvin very interesting:

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God's just dispensation.

Paul, to restrain us from retaliation for injuries, wisely points out that our struggle "is not with flesh and blood" [Ephesians 6:12], but with our spiritual enemy the devil [Ephesians 6:11], in order that we may prepare ourselves for the combat. Yet a most useful admonition to still all impulses to wrath is that God arms both the devil and all the wicked for the conflict, and sits as a judge of the games to exercise our
The Institutes of The Christian Religion - 1.17.8

Forgiving our fellow sinners because of what drives them to their sin. Do not get angry with others, but do forgive them because they are driven in their sin, helpless against it without the saving might of Jesus. I never looked at Paul's words as not only a warning against the evil forces of the spiritual realm but also as a plea to forgive those unfortunate souls who struggle as much as you or I do.

We are not to use it as an excuse to see, but it is a reason why we do. Forgiveness through that knowledge should flow easier and with more grace. The ability to graciously receive forgiveness from others should flow as well.

And I will try never to say "The devil made me do it".

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