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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

Forgiveness is the Bottom Line

Les Henson


Early in Jesus' ministry, he was anointed by a sinful woman at the house of a Pharisee (Luke 7: 36-50). When the Pharisee condemned Jesus for allowing her to touch him, He responded, "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Forgiveness is choosing to love, and the more we experience forgiveness, the greater our capacity for loving others as Jesus loved. It is the ultimate act of love. On the first Good Friday, Jesus looking down from the cross upon the crowds, said, "Forgive them, for they do not know what they do." He spoke these words shortly before he died, demonstrating the centrality of forgiveness to the movement he began. Forgiveness is the bottom line for those who are called to follow Jesus. Thus, since Jesus died, we have been called live by forgiveness. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power of love.


Although forgiveness is rarely easy. Indeed, it is painful and difficult. And yet we are called to forgiveness as part of our new life in Christ. We are called to adventure with God, which means that we are called to cross the normal boundaries of this world and live the life of the age to come, which means forgiving as we have been forgiven. As C. S. Lewis stated, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." So, obedience to Christ is a call to move beyond the norms of this world, and so embrace the ethics of the reign of God by loving and forgiving our neighbour as we would ourselves.

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