Forgiving others

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “You do not know of what kind of spirit you are” (Luke: 9, 55)


"Do we always understand of what kind of spirit we are ? How often we express strict judgments and seemingly fair indignation when we think that we have the full right to pronounce an inexorable judgment on our neighbor, or even to call down upon him God’s judgment! But should not the Savior’s words come to us: “You do not know of what kind of spirit you are!”?

"The all-powerful, but all-forgiving Christ stopped his disciples with these words when they wanted to summon heavenly fire down on the Samaritans who did not want to receive the Savior. It would seem that such anger was fully justified from their point of view, and should have proven their fervent love for the Savior. But no, this kind of love which demands revenge can never be acceptable to the Lord, because it does not have the spirit of meekness which He teaches us to have and which should be our spirit – the spirit of Christianity. How often we say that we would forgive everything directed at us personally, but cannot forgive an insult suffered by the one we love. Then we also do not know of what kind of spirit we are !

“Whatever evil may have been inflicted, whether on us or those close to us, in no way exonerating this evil, and hating the act itself, let us, however, be “slow to become angry, because anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James: 1, 19-20). Let us treat the guilty person in a spirit of meekness, love and forgiveness, in a spirit which conquers evil through meekness and love. The Spirit of Christ, forgiving the sinner, hates the sin, and shows love, tearing the person away from that enemy. And this is the spirit He wants to instill in us!”

Lewis has a whole chapter on Forgiveness in “Mere Christianity”. This is from that chapter:

"I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a man’s bad actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

“For a long time i used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them…But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

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