Professional golfer Tiger Woods was serially unfaithful to his wife. Still, he draws crowds. Adrian Peterson beat his son. Fans hate what he did yet root for him to help his team win. Michael Vick found work again after time in jail for dog fighting.
One commenter, referring to sports stars’ relationships with their fans, caught my attention with his insight: “In our society forgiveness is not for those who truly repent, it’s reserved for those who still have something to offer.”
He was right. We are outraged by sports stars, celebrities, and elected officials whose behavior seems outrageous. But we forgive, mainly because they offer victories, entertainment, the promise of better living conditions. Still, forgiveness isn’t the right word. We overlook, rationalize, minimize, judge—and make the person earn our forgiveness.
We have it wrong though. Our great God doesn’t forgive that way. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He forgives because he knows we have nothing to offer, because he wants to, because he loves us.
Jesus’ performance—not ours—is the only thing that brings us back into a real relationship with our Father. This is the only relationship that gives us peace.
We’ve been given the privilege of passing along that forgiveness to the people in our lives. Not because they’ve earned it or have something to offer, but out of gratefulness to Jesus.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. Her voice is heard regularly through her writing and blogging for Time of Grace. She is married to Greg, and they live in Wisconsin with their three active children.
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