The Teaching of Jesus eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 201 pages of information about The Teaching of Jesus.
against us.”  In the old Greek and Roman world, we have been told, people not only did not forgive their enemies, but did not wish to do so, nor think better of themselves for having done so.  That man considered himself fortunate who, on his deathbed, could say, on reviewing his past life, that no one had done more good to his friends or more mischief to his enemies.  And though we profess and call ourselves Christians, how strong in many of us still is the old heathen desire to be “even with” one who has wronged us, and to make him smart for it.  Many of us, as Dr. Dale says,[44] have given a new turn to an old text.  In our own private Revised Version of the New Testament we read:  “Whosoever speaketh a word or committeth a wrong against God, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh a word or committeth a wrong against me, it shall not be forgiven him; certainly not in this world, even if it is forgiven in the world to come.”  Resentment against moral evil every good man must feel; but when with the clear, bright flame of a holy wrath there mingle the dark fumes of personal vindictiveness, we do wrong, we sin against God.

Nowhere in Scripture, perhaps, have we such a lesson on the difficulty of forgiveness as in the reference to Alexander the coppersmith, in St. Paul’s last letter to Timothy.  Even if we read his words in the modified and undoubtedly accurate form in which they are found in the Revised Version, we still feel how far short they come of the standard of Christ.  “Paul,” says Dr. Whyte, “was put by Alexander to the last trial and sorest temptation of an apostolic and a sanctified heart."[45] And with all the greatness of our regard for the great apostle, we dare not say that he came out of the trial wholly unscathed.  Did ever any man come out of such a fire unhurt—­any save One?  Yet it is not for me to sit in judgment on St. Paul; only let us remember we have no warrant from God to hate any man and to hand him over to eternal judgment even though, like Alexander, he heap insult and injury, not only upon ourselves, but upon the cause and Church of Christ.

(3) And then to this native, inborn unwillingness to forgive there comes in to strengthen it our knowledge of the fact that forgiveness is sometimes mistaken for, and does, in fact, sometimes degenerate into, the moral weakness which slurs over a fault, and refuses to strike only because it dare not.  Nevertheless, though there be counterfeits current, there is a reality; there is a forgiving spirit which has no kinship with cowardice or weakness or mere mushiness of character, but which is the offspring of strength and goodness and mercy, in short, of all in man that is likest God.  And it is this not that which God bids us make our own; and not the less so because in the rough ways of the world that so often passes for this.


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The Teaching of Jesus from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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