October 27, 2014

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Are there two types of forgiveness? I don’t know. What I do know is that there are at least two different words in the New Testament that get translated as forgive. One is the word found in the Lord’s Prayer (and elsewhere) in the phrase “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” That word has as its root the sense of leaving- leaving the sin, debt, grievance, behind and starting fresh, not continuing to take it into account. As you might have guessed, this is not the word used in the above verse. The one in Ephesians here has as its root the sense of joy and grace, the giving of a gift. Is Paul upping the ante here, saying we are not only to passively leave behind the past pain caused by others but in kindness and compassion to actively bring grace and joy to the situation because that is what God does for us in Jesus? That answer is above my pay grade- I’m not that good a Greek scholar. I didn’t find it in the research I did for the sermon. Still, Paul knew both words and he chose to use this one here. It makes me wonder if we are not being asked to see forgiveness as more than the technical release from punishment but rather as the restoration of relationship with the grace and joy that comes with it. What kind of forgiveness have you experienced? What kind of forgiveness are you distributing this week?

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