Real repentance and forgiveness

By Dave Henning / April 9, 2023

“Part of real repentance usually means the wrongdoer asking, ‘What could I do that would make you trust me?”  Parto of real forgiveness means being open to the possibility of change in the offender and being truly unbiased and willing to offer more trust little by little.”- Timothy Keller

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”- Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)

Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 10 of Forgive as he states that the experience of divine forgiveness provides two required inner resources for us.  Pastor Keller refers to them as ‘inner poverty’ (humility for our sin) and ‘inner wealth’ (assurance of God’s love).

1.  Spiritual humility.  The best way to get the humility necessary for forgiveness involves acceptance of what the gospel says about us.  Thus, Jesus helps us acquire spiritual humility as we compare the debt we owe God with the debt anyone owes us.

Above all, the apostle Paul reminds us that when we pursue vengeance we place ourselves in God’s judgment seat.  However, humility reminds us that:

  • only God is qualified to judge
  • only God knows enough to be judge
  • Jesus took the judgment of God for us

2.  Spiritual wealth.  You can be generous to others if you’re rich in your experience of God’s love.  Therefore, you should confront and seek justice for God’s sake and the perpetrator’s sake.  Hence, you need to be emotionally and spiritually wealthy enough to bear these losses.

As a result, Pastor Keller exhorts, you possess the spiritual wealth to look at your offender and say, “You cannot ruin me.  You cannot ultimately rob me of my real wealth and goods.”

In conclusion, Pastor Keller counsels:

“Don’t let yourself be twisted.  Take in what Jesus Christ has done, put your little story about what people have done for you into the big story of what he did for you, and you’ll have all the power you need to grant forgiveness.”

Today’s question: How do you respond to Pastor Keller’s description of real repentance and forgiveness?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Defending our ego and image”

About the author

Dave Henning

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