Forgive us our trespasses


#1

In talks and retreats I have heard several times that we should unconditionally forgive others who cause us offence (trespass against us), whether they ask for forgiveness or not, whether they show remorse or repentance or not. Often quoted is Gordon Wilson whose daughter Marie was killed by the IRA bomb in Enniskillen (and was himself injured) and who immediately forgave the bombers.

Yet we are told that we must repent and ask God’s forgiveness before he will forgive us.

Why does God ask us to do something that he himself is not prepared to do?

In the gospels we hear how Jesus forgave the sins of the paralysed man who was let down from the roof. And although we do not the disposition of the man’s heart there was no apparent repentance. Indeed I would think the man had only two concerns at the time – to be healed, and not to be tipped of the mat as he was lowered down.

In the story of the prodigal son the father is just waiting for the son’s return, apparently having already forgiven him.

Again Jesus forgives the sins of the “good thief” although there is little evidence that he had repented of his many crimes (he may have recognised that his punishment was deserved, but that doesn’t mean he was sorry for what he had done, just that he had been caught). Jesus even asks the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him – again without any signs of repentance.

Then again, in the Lords Prayer that Jesus taught, we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us “ So Jesus told us to ask the father to forgive us in the same was as we forgive others (i.e. unconditionally, with no prior remorse of repentance). Why would Jesus tell us to do this if God expects us to ask for forgiveness and show repentance.

Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction? Its bugging me.


#2

We have no idea what was in the guy’s heart, I think that one was where they guy was healed because others believed in Jesus, then I would conclude that after being healed, the man would have acknowledged Jesus and wanted forgiveness.

Again Jesus forgives the sins of the “good thief” although there is little evidence that he had repented of his many crimes (he may have recognised that his punishment was deserved, but that doesn’t mean he was sorry for what he had done, just that he had been caught).

The man crucified next to Jesus? He was defending Jesus against the heckling of the other, we can’t know what else he was thinking.

Jesus even asks the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him – again without any signs of repentance.

This one I have a more solid answer. For an action to be a sin, we have to know that it is a sin. And:

Matthew 23:

54 32 The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Luke27:

34 [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”]

So, they didn’t know what they were really doing when they crucified Him, and, repentence was shown by at least one of them.

Hope it helps.


#3

[quote=steve99]In talks and retreats I have heard several times that we should unconditionally forgive others who cause us offence (trespass against us), whether they ask for forgiveness or not, whether they show remorse or repentance or not. Often quoted is Gordon Wilson whose daughter Marie was killed by the IRA bomb in Enniskillen (and was himself injured) and who immediately forgave the bombers.

Yet we are told that we must repent and ask God’s forgiveness before he will forgive us.

Why does God ask us to do something that he himself is not prepared to do?

In the gospels we hear how Jesus forgave the sins of the paralysed man who was let down from the roof. And although we do not the disposition of the man’s heart there was no apparent repentance. Indeed I would think the man had only two concerns at the time – to be healed, and not to be tipped of the mat as he was lowered down.

In the story of the prodigal son the father is just waiting for the son’s return, apparently having already forgiven him.

Again Jesus forgives the sins of the “good thief” although there is little evidence that he had repented of his many crimes (he may have recognised that his punishment was deserved, but that doesn’t mean he was sorry for what he had done, just that he had been caught). Jesus even asks the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him – again without any signs of repentance.

Then again, in the Lords Prayer that Jesus taught, we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us “ So Jesus told us to ask the father to forgive us in the same was as we forgive others (i.e. unconditionally, with no prior remorse of repentance). Why would Jesus tell us to do this if God expects us to ask for forgiveness and show repentance.

Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction? Its bugging me.
[/quote]

i can’t give the… official answer… but, i can give my thoughts on
your question…

maybe we are to treat others as if they have repented, because
we can’t know in their hearts if they have or not… God, on the
other hand, knows what is in your heart, so if you have truly
repented in your heart, He knows it…

in plain english… i guess what i’m trying to say is…maybe we should give the benefit of the doubt and forgive, in
case the the person has repented, or will repent because of
our forgiveness… but, with God, there is no doubt… he knows

:slight_smile:


#4

[quote=johnshelby]i can’t give the… official answer… but, i can give my thoughts on
your question…

maybe we are to treat others as if they have repented, because
we can’t know in their hearts if they have or not… God, on the
other hand, knows what is in your heart, so if you have truly
repented in your heart, He knows it…

in plain english… i guess what i’m trying to say is…maybe we should give the benefit of the doubt and forgive, in
case the the person has repented, or will repent because of
our forgiveness… but, with God, there is no doubt… he knows
[/quote]

I would agree with this. :slight_smile:


#5

[quote=steve99]In talks and retreats I have heard several times that we should unconditionally forgive others who cause us offence (trespass against us), whether they ask for forgiveness or not, whether they show remorse or repentance or not. Often quoted is Gordon Wilson whose daughter Marie was killed by the IRA bomb in Enniskillen (and was himself injured) and who immediately forgave the bombers.

Yet we are told that we must repent and ask God’s forgiveness before he will forgive us.

Why does God ask us to do something that he himself is not prepared to do?

[/quote]

Can you elaborate a little more, on — Yet we are told that we must repent and ask God’s forgiveness before he will forgive us.

Why does God ask us to do something that he himself is not prepared to do?

One thing that comes to mind is the healing of the deaf and dumb who can’t hear the words of forgiveness nor ask for forgiveness.
Or the infant that can’t speak but yet is healed, God knows what is in our hearts, and I believe Jesus was able to read hearts.


#6

Hey Steve,
I think that the problem here comes from confusing the actual forgiveness with the reconcilliation. Just as we are to immediately offer forgiveness (even if it is an anticipatory offering) to anyone who wrongs us, God offers forgiveness to us immediately upon any wrong-doing. However, in the act of going to confession, we are, by “asking for forgiveness”, showing our willingness to receive it. Even though God offers his forgiveness immediately, we cannot be reconciled to him until we accept it and repent of our ways. Likewise, say someone at work insults me on a regular basis, I forgive that person each time, but our relationship is never truly reconciled until that person a) changes that behavior (as we must with God) and b) let’s us know that in some way, preferably by asking for our forgiveness. Even though we have already internally forgiven them, the relationship is not repaired until they participate, as we must with God’s forgiveness. Hope this helps.
-Spencer


#7

[quote=awfulthings9]Hey Steve,
I think that the problem here comes from confusing the actual forgiveness with the reconcilliation. Just as we are to immediately offer forgiveness (even if it is an anticipatory offering) to anyone who wrongs us, God offers forgiveness to us immediately upon any wrong-doing. However, in the act of going to confession, we are, by “asking for forgiveness”, showing our willingness to receive it. Even though God offers his forgiveness immediately, we cannot be reconciled to him until we accept it and repent of our ways. Likewise, say someone at work insults me on a regular basis, I forgive that person each time, but our relationship is never truly reconciled until that person a) changes that behavior (as we must with God) and b) let’s us know that in some way, preferably by asking for our forgiveness. Even though we have already internally forgiven them, the relationship is not repaired until they participate, as we must with God’s forgiveness. Hope this helps.
-Spencer
[/quote]

I think that explains it very well. Thank you.


#8

Dear steve99,

For what it’s worth, I think that’s an excellent question.

This is speculation, on my part, but here goes:

If a person forgives those who have done great injury
to them, might not that act of mercy and charity
somehow, thru God’s agency, provide the grace
needed - to the one who has done the injuring -
so that the grace, to repent, will be given that person?


And what is the meaning of “forgive”…

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what
they are doing…”

Are we asking the Father: do not hold this against them?

Are we asking: Do not deprive them of Your
presence, eternally, because of what they have
done to me?

Does it mean not to seek revenge?
{“Vengence is mine, says the Lord.”}

“You will be forgiven, to the same degree, *in the same *
way, that you forgave others?” [indebted to
C.S. Lewis for this insight]

And, further, what is the connection between
forgiveness and mercy?


Since only God, alone, knows the state of soul,
of the one doing the injuring [culpability], is He
asking us not to judge culpability, leaving that
to Him?

Did Christ know the heart of the Good Thief
better than we can know same?


Or, is He saying to us: if you do not forgive, you
may find yourself so caught up - in your anger, or
your desire for revenge - that you lose sight of Me?

Is He saying: “I’m not asking you to determine the
final, eternal state of the injurer - as God, I will determine
same. But I am asking you not to will this
person’s eternal loss, because of what has been
done to you.”

reen12


#9

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