“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 | NKJV).
“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 | NKJV).
For an extended period of time, this website, that is to say the website of Nehemiah International Ministry (NIM) had posted a relevant article entitled “The Need for Justice in the Homeland of the Persecuted.” In an endeavor to attest to the whole counsel of God, the author of the article is profoundly compelled to reason that forgiveness and mercy should be staged on same pedestal where justice and judgment uncontestedly stand. Otherwise, the equilibrium of biblical equity would be unevenly balanced and the legitimacy and fairness of justice would be grossly compromised. As the matter of fact, if justice solely displays itself without leniently inclined competent rival, namely “mercy,” its harsh ramifications would be extremely and agonizingly unbearable. Therefore, in order for justice to glow splendidly, it has to be harmoniously tempered with mercy and forgiveness.
As the recipient of God’s magnanimous and overflowing grace, the author genuinely believes that rather than vigorously concentrate in the insistence of Justice alone, the forgiven humanity would greatly magnify the work of the cross, if they unanimously testify to the immensity and wonder of God’s lavish generosity in the pronouncement of His boundless forgiveness and mercy. For it should wholeheartedly be acknowledged that if Justice alone were to be executed without the application of mercy and forgiveness, the entire human race would have been irreversibly doomed to eternal condemnation. Hence, to rigorously demand for justice alone is to be oblivious of what God has graciously done for redeemed mankind at Calvary. These prefatory statements are thoughtfully made for the purpose of affirmation of the Scriptural declaration that “…mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13c | NKJV emphases added).
The motivational factors for inditing this germane article are two fold:
- Since the need for justice in the homeland of the persecuted has been previously advocated in great detail, for the purpose of reciprocity, now it is time to speak in favor of mercy and forgiveness, thereby giving justice and mercy identical platform, where they can equally address their issues without showing the slightest partiality.
- 2. Since our horizontal relationship with each other positively or negatively affect our vertical relationship with our Heavenly Father, thereby making a monumental difference in the way our petitions are entertained, now is also the time that we positively deal with our unforgiving spirit, so that our fervent prayer for the deliverance of the persecuted may be answered in the affirmative and not be hindered.
Even though the call for unconditional forgiveness does sound cacophonous to the ear of natural man, and its popularity among the redeemed is not that greatly far-reaching, yet its crucial relevance can not be underestimated. When Christ was on earth, He has magnificently exemplified magnanimous spirt of forgiveness that should be emulated by all authentic believers who claim unwavering allegiance to Him. “To forgive as we have been forgiving,” is the scriptural injunction that we must all adhere to in a positive manner. If we are having hard time to forgive someone who seriously wronged us in the past, it might help to remember that our offense against God is much more grievous that it costed Him the precious life of His dear only begotten Son. Though as forgiven children, God is not unjust so as to forget the work of love, which we have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints (Heb. 6:10), on the other hand, lack of genuine forgiveness produces absence of love, without which even every sincere attempt to serve God would mount only to utter futility. The validity of the preceding statement could convincingly be substantiated by the “Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13).
Since the scripture is replete with multiple messages of forgiveness and its multifaceted implications, to proceed with the topic at hand at great length, may logically seem superfluous. However, since the unforgiving spirit that is breeding multiple divisions in an innumerable churches has become prevalent in our day, to walk the Christian road without properly addressing the issues of resentments and grudges would further damage our testimony, thereby making our effort for the deliverance of persecuted ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. It is conspicuously noticeable that political animosity is deeply felt in the Eritrean congregations, and flagrant disunity and appalling polarization are widely spreading their vicious roots in the East African religious communities. Why? Simply because “forgiveness” has no suitable room in the hearts of the congregants. The need for forgiveness can not be over emphasized. However, since the subject of forgiveness is extremely broad in the ramifications of its magnitude, to limit it to its desirable circumference, it suffices to conclude the matter of forgiveness by giving an illustration of an authentic pardon that was granted to an undeserving vicious criminal by a devout young Christian lady, who exemplified Christ-like love, during the early part of this century.
In his compelling work, Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis, Prof. L. Gregory Jones narrates a historical account that was meticulously handed down from the Armenian Church:
“A Turkish officer raided and looted an Armenian home. He killed the aged parents and gave the daughters to the soldiers, keeping the eldest daughter for himself. Sometime later she escaped and trained as a nurse. As time passed, she found herself nursing in a ward of Turkish officers. One night, by the light of lantern, she saw the face of this officer. He was so gravely ill that without exceptional nursing he would die. The days passed, and he recovered. One day, the doctor stood by the bed with her said to him, ‘But for her devotion to you, you would be dead.’ He looked at her and said, ‘we have met before, haven’t we?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘we have met before.’ ‘Why didn’t you kill me?’ He asked. She replied, ‘I am a follower of Him who said “Love your enemies.”‘” (emphasis mine.)
This type of forgiving spirit should be widespread among ourselves and also should unreluctantly be extended even to our persecutors, who are virulently prone to attack our Christian Faith. Why? For the simple reason that the agonizing crucifixion of our Savior is vividly and focally imaged at the back of our mental retina, and doing so would cause our spirit to line up with our father Joseph’s forgiving spirit, which would ultimately be a cause for transforming other lives.
In order to bring the visible aversion that is common in the Eritrean churches to harmonious reconciliation, may I humbly say, that it is time that church goers concur with our forefather Job’s plea, “though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” (Job 9:14-15 NIV, emphasis added). Yes indeed, mercy triumphs over judgment and that with flying colors. To God alone be matchless glory for an aeonian duration! Amen.
In the vineyards of His service,