Why forgive?

by Ruel Catlett

Several years ago a picture of the pope and the man who tried to murder him appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. The two were clasping hands. In bold print across the page was a question:

Why forgive?

It seems to me that simple human logic should cause us to ask, “Why not forgive?” After all, who wants the bitterness and resentment necessary to maintain an unforgiving heart?

Christians have additional motivation to forgive. We have clear Biblical directives which have taught us to forgiveness is the normal, expected reaction of God’s people to those who do them harm.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger;brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other; just as in Christ, God forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:31-32

We do not find the Pope’s action surprising, but as the article in Time points out, much of our world does. This remind us that, for all man’s lip-service, few truly believe in the fundamental principles governing spiritual life.

There are even professed Christians who do not consider much of the Sermon of the Mount a practical formula for managing human relationship. They question the guidelines which supported the life of the World’s only perfect man!

Among other things, this suggests that the watching world may need a more consistent demonstration of Christ’s spirit working in us. We long for the day when real Christian love is not so rare as to be remarkable. We would rather that it would be shocking to the world when those claim to know Christ fail to display His compassion toward men.