The Review and Herald


November 16, 1886

The Duty of Forgiveness


“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” It is most difficult, even for those who claim to be followers of Jesus, to forgive as Christ forgives us. The true spirit of forgiveness is so little practiced, and so many interpretations are placed upon Christ's requirement, that its force and beauty are lost sight of. We have very uncertain views of the great mercy and loving-kindness of God. He is full of compassion and forgiveness, and freely pardons when we truly repent and confess our sins. But when the message of God's pardoning love comes from a heart that has an experimental knowledge thereof, to those who have not experienced it for themselves it is like speaking in parables. We must bring into our characters the love and sympathy expressed in Christ's life. RH November 16, 1886, par. 1

Peter, when brought to the test, sinned greatly. In denying the Master he had loved and served, he became a cowardly apostate. But his Lord did not cast him off; he freely forgave him. After the resurrection, the angel told the women who had brought spices to the tomb, to carry the glad news of a risen Lord to the “disciples and Peter.” And when afterward Christ thrice repeated the question, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” Peter cast himself upon the tender mercy of the Master he had so wronged, and said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” And when our Lord intrusted to him the care of the sheep and lambs of the heavenly fold, Peter knew that he was taken back into divine confidence and affection. To fulfill this charge, he would need to have that mind which was in Jesus Christ; and if he was converted, he would copy the Pattern. Henceforth, remembering his own weakness and failures, he would be patient with his brethren in their mistakes and errors; remembering the patient love of Christ toward him, affording him another opportunity to bring forth the fruit of good works, he would be more conciliatory toward erring ones. RH November 16, 1886, par. 2

If we have received the gift of God, and have a knowledge of Jesus Christ, we have a work to do for others. We must imitate the long-suffering of God toward us. The Lord requires of us the same treatment toward his followers that we receive of him. We are to exercise patience, to be kind, even though they do not meet our expectations in every particular. The Lord expects us to be pitiful and loving, to have sympathetic hearts. The fruits of the grace of God will be shown in our deportment to one another. We should keep always before us that, while claiming to be commandment-keepers, we must not be found to be commandment-breakers. The last six commandments specify man's duty to man. Christ did not say, You may tolerate your neighbor, but, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This means a great deal more than professing Christians carry out in their daily life. While they claim to be doers of God's word, they fail to make sure work by earnest practice. RH November 16, 1886, par. 3

When Christ was on earth, instead of removing from the commandments one jot or one tittle of their force, he showed by precept and example how far-reaching their principles are, how much broader they are than the scribes and Pharisees thought. As Jesus taught the people practical godliness, the scribes and Pharisees were thinking that he was lowering the Old Testament standard; but Christ read their thoughts and understood their feelings like an open book, and reproved the self-righteous rulers in these words to the disciples: “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” RH November 16, 1886, par. 4

Christ continues to impress upon his disciples the necessity of practicing the principles of the commandments. He tells them that the seventh commandment may be violated by the eyes and thoughts; therefore, the principles of God's law reach even to the intents and purposes of the mind. The Saviour seeks to impress upon his followers that merely believing the commandments is not enough; they must do them. He sets forth plain evidence that if we faithfully keep the ten precepts we shall love our neighbor as ourselves. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” RH November 16, 1886, par. 5

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works which I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments.” “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” RH November 16, 1886, par. 6

All the lessons and works of Christ were to show the elevated character of the law of his Father. If we have any just comprehension of the love wherewith he hath loved us, we will see that we come far short of doing his words. We claim to have special light in regard to the binding claims of God's law upon the whole human family, and we profess to be walking in that light. Let us critically examine ourselves, to see if we are living in obedience to the words of our Master in which he plainly points out the duty of his followers to their enemies as well as to their brethren. RH November 16, 1886, par. 7

Nothing short of unreserved consecration to God will place us in such a relation to him that we will rightly perform every daily duty, and cultivate a piety so thorough and practical as to make itself felt by all in the circle of our influence. We must guard ourselves against a love of self that will lead us to neglect to render obedience to the important instructions Christ has given. These lessons should be so impressed upon our minds that we will consider how our words and actions appear to those who behold them. We should studiously cultivate Christian courtesy at all times, which will keep us from neglecting that which is due to others. We must study the example Christ has left us, as revealed in his character; and then, all unconsciously to ourselves, we shall do the works he did. By reflecting upon those around us the rays of light we thus receive, we may bring to a saving knowledge of him those who know him not. If all who claim to believe the truth would practice the lessons of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves, there would be a forward, upward movement all along the line. We are to love souls for whom the Saviour died, with the pure unselfish love he manifested when he became our sacrifice. RH November 16, 1886, par. 8

Let heads of families look into their home life. Is this love exemplified in the family circle? Go farther in your self-examination: in your association with your brethren in church capacity, do you find unkindness, selfishness, or even dishonesty? Be sure that you examine and prove yourselves as Paul has directed: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves.” In the light of God's word, search carefully whether you truly have the love of God in the heart. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you.” “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” RH November 16, 1886, par. 9

The love of Jesus needs to be brought to bear upon our lives. It will have a softening, subduing influence upon our hearts and characters. It will prompt us to forgive our brethren, even though they have done us injury. Divine love must flow from our hearts in gentle words and kindly actions to one another. The fruit of these good works will hang as rich clusters upon the vine of character. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” RH November 16, 1886, par. 10

“Long-suffering” is patience with offense; long endurance. If you are long-suffering, you will not impart to others your supposed knowledge of your brother's mistakes and errors. You will seek to help and save him, because he has been purchased with the blood of Christ. “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” To be long-suffering is not to be gloomy and sad, sour and hard-hearted; it is to be exactly the opposite. RH November 16, 1886, par. 11

There are church members who never feel sweet peace and rest in Jesus. They have made no growth in grace, they manifest no increase in meekness and love. An impatient, fault-finding, critical, envious, suspicious spirit classes them as yet among those under the influence of the adversary of souls. If they would let the spirit of their Saviour come in, their cold, hard hearts would be melted, and the merciful love of Jesus would be communicated to others instead of this worrying, exacting spirit. Christ's followers are in this world for the purpose of working intelligently to pluck brands from the burning. A consistent religious life, holy conversation, a godly example, true-hearted benevolence, mark the representative of Christ. Every duty he will faithfully perform, thus becoming a beacon light. RH November 16, 1886, par. 12

Have you an unwavering trust in God? Lacking self-confidence, do you put your faith in him, rejoicing that you are privileged to be his child, even to suffer for his dear sake? Rejoicing in Christ as your Saviour, pitiful, compassionate, and touched with the feeling of your infirmities, love and joy will be revealed in your daily life. If you love Him who died to redeem mankind, you will love those for whom he died. A restful peace and happiness will fill your heart to overflowing when you believe that Jesus carries you and all your burdens. RH November 16, 1886, par. 13

Brethren, we are nearing the Judgment. Talents have been lent us in trust. Let none of us be at last condemned as slothful servants. Send forth the words of life to those yet in darkness. Let the church be true to her trust. Her earnest, humble prayers will make the presentation of truth effectual, and Christ will be glorified. RH November 16, 1886, par. 14

Nimes, France.