Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
“Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?”
This question came in response to my speaking and writing on the topic of forgiveness. I can sense the concern underlying the question – no one wants to be a doormat, walked on by others and their bad behavior. Nor am I interested in encouraging or somehow coercing codependent, enabling behavior that covers for another’s irresponsible, addictive or abusive actions in the name of acts of so-called forgiveness. Denial is not the same as forgiveness.
But the question of measuring forgiveness has Biblical precedent. It’s essentially the question that Peter asks in response to Jesus teaching about the process of forgiveness; “How many times should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
What I find interesting is that the process that Jesus outlines in Matthew 18 accounts for the possibility that our efforts to forgive and be reconciled will end in failure. Peter asks his question from the perspective of one who assumes that he’ll be successful in giving and receiving forgiveness; his question is: how freely do I share this precious gift of mine without losing it or disgracing or damaging myself?
It’s a real question of real importance if forgiveness is a resource that Peter must provide from himself. How many times can one person do this?
Jesus answers Peter’s question in the form of a story of abundant forgiveness that reveals Peter’s misunderstanding. The forgiveness that Peter is being challenged to offer is not of his own making. It’s a forgiveness that comes to him in abundance from God. It’s a forgiveness that he can’t possibly hope to repay. Divine generosity, what we frequently call “grace,” is of an infinite amount for Peter and for you and me. There is no end to the forgiving that God gives. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are the living, dying and rising proof of this. When Jesus returns to the disciples who had betrayed and deserted him, his first words are “Peace be with you.”
Is there such a thing as being too forgiving? When it comes to God’s forgiveness for you, the answer is, “No, there isn’t such a thing as being too forgiving.”
Peace be with you,
Nov. 8, 2017
Rev. James A. Wetzstein serves as one of our university pastors at Valpo and takes turns writing weekly reflections.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
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- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
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- Fear not!
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- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future