What is the cost of forgiveness?
We are blessed greatly by God when we live in unity with others through the power of forgiveness. This is the way to live out our hope in Christ. Yet, this hope takes us down the road that endures suffering. The same road Jesus walked. His story becomes our story.
In 1 Peter 3:8-22, the apostle explains these concepts in the midst of a progression:
- Baptism, resurrection and death go together. The water represents death. Resurrection is life emerging out of death. In baptism, we are raised from spiritual death to walk in the newness of life in Jesus.
- Hope and preparation go together. People rarely ask about our spiritual knowledge or proof for our faith. Yet, when they see the hope that we have displayed in our willingness to forgive, they will be inclined to ask about our faith. Our preparation to give an answer is to cling to the hope of Christ while enduring the struggles and adversity of life.
- Hope and suffering go together. Our hope is greater than current circumstances. Do we believe that God's plan went wrong when Christians had to endure suffering? Or did faith increase with suffering?
- Suffering and forgiveness go together. We forgive others in order to bless them. Blessing requires a sacrifice.
Our culture does not value these blessings. Suffering is to be avoided. Hope is in one's own abilities. Death is to be delayed. Retaliation and revenge are preferred over forgiveness. But this is not our calling as Christ followers. We have life and hope because of Jesus' great suffering and forgiveness, His death and resurrection. Our hope requires forgiveness which means we will suffer trials and hardship.
The instructions given within this passage are difficult to embrace. To live for Christ is a kind of death- death to self. Yet, this suffering is the key to experiencing the blessing of God. The cost of forgiveness is infinitely high. It cost Jesus His life on the cross. It costs us greatly, too. Yet, we suffer for a reason. The lost and spiritually dead world will see hope in the Gospel of Jesus by the forgiveness we generously offer to others.
Other passages referred to in today's message: Mk 10:35-40; Rom 6:3-4; 2 Pet 3:4-6; Lk 9:23; 1 Pet 4:12; 1 Pet 2:9; Rom 5:3-4; Mt 6:14-15; Mt 5:48; Js 1:2-4; Lk 23:34
1. What situations make forgiveness most difficult?
2. What role does our hope in Christ play in the ability to forgive others?
3. How can we prepare ourselves now to forgive others in the week to come?