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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

December 12, 2014

A practical application of forgiveness

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

We all are familiar with Jesus' admonition concerning the willingness to forgive, which we find at the end of the "Lord's prayer": "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

We often see forgiveness as a verbal or written exchange between us and the person(s) whom we are to forgive or who need to forgive us. That can be the case, but forgiveness is not limited to such exchanges. It can also be a "one-way" street where the other person isn't aware of our willingness to forgive. King Solomon provides a practical example:

"There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others" (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22).

We find these verses in a section (verses 15-29) in which Solomon is providing tips for living a balanced life.

Verse 20 confirms what the Scriptures tell us elsewhere: there is no one who is without fault. And the context is the use of the tongue. The apostle James expands on what Solomon wrote: "We all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2).

Solomon's advice for us that we not take too seriously what others say about us. The word "curse" in Ecclesiastes 7, verse 21 does not mean "to invoke or bring evil or misfortune upon" or "to damn". It is the Hebrew word "qalal", which means "to make light, trifling, bring into contempt, abate". In 1 Samuel 2:30 it is translated "lightly esteemed". Salomon is telling us that when we hear someone has spoken negatively about us, we should remember that we have done the same ourselves. Haven't we experienced regret at times after we have said something negative about someone? Without knowing it ourselves, the person who has said such things about us may regret it in the meantime.

In his proverbs Solomon praised the man who takes his advice in this regard: "The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression" (Proverbs 19:11).

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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