Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Importance of Forgiveness in Our Lives: What Jesus Taught His Disciples?*

Jesus once taught his disciples the importance of forgiveness while we live our lives as humans on earth.

The following gives the essence of what he taught:

God is your Father in heaven and he loves his children, and therefore you should learn to love one another; the Father in heaven forgives you your sins; therefore should you learn to forgive one another.

If your brother does some wrong against you, go to him and with tact and patience to show him his fault. And do all this between you and him alone. If he will listen to you, then you have won your brother. But if your brother will not hear you, if he persists in the error of his way, go again to him, taking with you one or two mutual friends that you may thus have two or even three witnesses to confirm your testimony and establish the fact that you have dealt justly and mercifully with your offending brother. Now if he refuses to hear your brethren, you may tell the whole story to everyone in your locality or the authorities, and then, if he refuses to hear the brotherhood, let them take such action as they deem wise; let such an unruly member become an outcast from your locality.

While you cannot pretend to sit in judgment on the souls of your fellows, and while you may not forgive sins or otherwise presume to force the prerogatives of the spiritual worlds, it has been committed to your hands that you should maintain law and order in your own nation on earth. While you may not meddle with the divine decrees concerning eternal life, you shall determine the issues of conduct as they concern the welfare of the people on earth as it is applicable to your times.

And so, in all these matters connected with the discipline of the people, whatsoever you shall decree on earth shall be recognized in heaven. Although you cannot determine the eternal fate of the individual, you may legislate regarding the conduct of the group, for, where two or three of you agree concerning any of these things and ask of me, it shall be done for you if your petition is not inconsistent with the will of my Father in heaven. And all this is ever true, for, where two or three believers are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them.

You should forgive your fellow beings not only seven times but even seventy seven.

The spiritual administration of your heavenly father may be likened to a certain earthly ruler who ordered a financial audit of accounts with his officers. And when they had begun to conduct this examination of accounts, one of his chief officers was brought before him confessing that he owed the treasury ten thousand pounds. Now this officer pleaded that hard times had come upon him, and that he did not have the means to pay this obligation. And so the ruler commanded that his property be confiscated and sold to pay his debt. When this chief officer heard this stern decree, he pleaded to have mercy and grant him more time. And when the ruler looked upon this negligent but repenting officer, he was moved with compassion. He ordered that he should be released, and that the loan should be wholly forgiven.

And this chief steward, having thus received mercy and forgiveness at the hands of the ruler, went about his business, and finding one of his subordinate officers who owed him a mere hundred pounds, he laid hold upon him and, taking him by the throat and ordered to pay back his debts immediately. And then this subordinate officer begged for forgiveness and mercy. But the chief officer would not show mercy to his fellow officer but rather had taken disciplinary actions until he paid back the amount. When his fellow staff saw what had happened, they were so distressed that they went and told about this incident to the ruler. When the ruler heard of the doings of his chief officer, he called this ungrateful and unforgiving man before him and said: `You are a wicked and unworthy officer. When you sought for compassion, I freely forgave you. Why did you not also show mercy to your fellow officer, even as I showed mercy to you?’

And the ruler was so very angry that he ordered dismissal of this man from his service.

But our heavenly Father shows the more abundant mercy to those who freely show mercy to their fellows.

How can you come to God asking consideration for your shortcomings when you are so adamant of punishing or taking revenge on those of your fellow beings for being guilty of the same human weaknesses?

Therefore I say to all of you: Freely you have received the good things on earth from the spiritual administration of your heavenly father and hence you should not withhold that same goodness to your fellow beings on earth.

In a nutshell, the following is the essence of what Jesus taught:

Discipline must be maintained, justice must be administered, but in all these matters the wisdom of the human brotherhood should prevail.

Jesus invested legislative and judicial authority in the group, not in the individual. Even this investment of authority in the group must not be exercised as personal authority. There is always danger that the verdict of an individual may be faulted by prejudice or distorted by passion. Group judgment is more likely to remove the dangers and eliminate the unfairness of personal bias.

Jesus sought always to minimize the elements of unfairness, retaliation, and vengeance from the acts of people while they conducted their lives on earth.

[*Adapted from Paper-159 of the Urantia Book]

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