Forgiveness Part 2
Bible Class #7
Series: Hot Topics 2
In our first class on forgiveness, we looked at an account
from the Fiji Islands (See Class #3). In the previous class
(Class #6) we looked at the story of the Good Samaritan
and in what context the ’Good Samaritan’ phrase is often
used. In this study we will take a look at forgiveness and
how forgiveness played an important part in the Good
Samaritan story. Before we begin the study, let’s take
another look at a dictionary definition of forgiveness:
Definition: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who
has done something wrong): to stop blaming (someone):
to stop feeling anger about (something): to forgive someone for (something wrong): to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed).
In the Good Samaritan story, the person doing the good deed was a Samaritan. Samaria was a neighbor country to the Jews, located to the north. The Jews and Samaritans had the same origin many centuries before. They were hated as inferior people by many of the Jewish race who would have absolutely nothing to do with the Samaritans.
The man the Samaritan helped was a Jew. If the Samaritan didn’t have a forgiving attitude, he would not have helped the Jewish man who had been robbed. It would have been easy for the Samaritan to think, “the Jews hate my people, so he got what he deserved, why should I help him?!”
But he overcame that attitude through forgiveness. The story of the Good Samaritan is often used as a model of what unselfish love and forgiveness looks like. But it is good to remember that it is not just helping people we are connected to or are neutral, meaning they have no connection to us, so we can feel good about helping them, but even helping people who are hostile to us or we to them, which can only be done through forgiveness.
It is significant that the last definition from the dictionary meaning above, is attached to a financial debt situation. In the Lord’s prayer we encounter the statement, ‘forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matthew 6:12). Is that referring only to money?Let’s use that question to illustrate an important point.
When someone owes a debt that they cannot pay, the lender has the power to ‘forgive’ the debt (or to require that some punishment happen to the debtor in lieu of payment). If the lender forgives the debtor, then the payment is no longer needed or demanded.
It may happen that the person owing the money may try to pay back some of the debt, but it is not demanded. In that situation the lender ‘takes the hit’ or suffers the loss, until he/she gains enough money from other sources to cover their loss and get back to where they were before financially.
But, how does the money situation fit in with the overall meaning of forgiveness?
Firstly, we see that once a debt has been created then payment has to be made. Even if the lender forgives the debtor, he himself has to ‘pay’ until things are ‘equal’ and the debt is finished or eliminated. That principle is the same with anything that requires forgiveness.
As an example:
Even if someone says, ‘I forgive you’, over a wrong that happened, the wrong doesn’t simply disappear as though it never existed.
Each time the person, who said, ‘I forgive you’, sees or talks to the other person, they have to choose not to be angry, choose to set it aside, choose to be kind or generous instead of vengeful and that hurts, that costs. The debt is being paid by the person who was wronged, little by little, until things are paid off in full and the anger, pain or ill-will are no longer felt. Then the debt has been put in the past as both cancelled and paid in full.
Now, let’s connect this idea to the Good Samaritan.
We don’t know if he was a real person or simply a character that Jesus invented to illustrate his point. If he were a real person, what had his experience of the Jews been? Maybe a Jew, contrary to their regular beliefs had helped him and he was ‘returning the favor’. It could be that he decided not to live by the stereotype and stepped out to help. Either way, he had to move on past the normal relationship that Samaritans and Jews had, forgive the stereotype of being an inferior race and take action, not even knowing how the injured Jewish man would react if or when he recovered.
The true meaning of the Good Samaritan story:
I hope that you can see that the true deeper meaning of the Good Samaritan story is not only helping those in need. But more, hopefully turning negative relationships into friendships by forgiveness and positive action.
Following are some Bible verses to show how God in Christ suffered to forgive us as an example that we should follow: 1 Peter 3:18, Matthew 5:42-48.
See more on this topic in an upcoming class!