This week’s study of Proverbs 17 has two verses within it that highlight the practice of forgiveness and peacemaking. God was surely setting the standard for these two areas of life as we also see them thoroughly taught in the New Testament for Christians. Let’s dig deeper into these two Proverbs today and pray that God will help us to mature in these two critical areas of life in Christ.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Solomon says it is loving to cover or forgive an offense. To hold it against or repeat the offense ruins a friendship with separation. This is huge when we understand that Christ essentially redeemed us to be unified into the family of God and to practice unity and forgiveness for the sake of unity he has bought for us with this blood. It is sin that causes separation and grudges to divide relationships and it is Christ in us that causes us to forgive so that we can be united and not divided.
Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
We, the church, are the chosen ones of God! As His beloved, we are set apart for holy living.
The church is set apart due largely by the way we live in Christ. We are compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient. We are willing to bear with one another as we wrestle with sin. But probably most important of all of these is our practice to forgive each other.
WHY do we forgive one another? Because God has forgiven us.
Because we have received grace and mercy that means the debt we are due was forgiven. No other event in our lives has altered us greater than this. To be forgiven by the God of the Universe. To be pardoned by the King of Kings. It has truly changed us forever!
This means that debt doesn’t hang on us anymore.
→ This is what makes grace so beautiful- so amazing! He knows us at our worst and he still paid for our freedom and forgave us and chooses to look upon us in an entirely new light.
What this allows us to do is not only rejoice to our great and merciful God.
It allows us to be a part of his plan for restoration and building a new community.
Probably the biggest thing our society needs is forgiveness. The number one topic of counseling is forgiveness. The fracture between mother and son, husband and wife, daughter and father is caused by sin, but it is continued by lack of forgiveness!
Oh, how desperate we are for forgiveness for eternal life. But our society is desperate for the practice of the church forgiving ONE ANOTHER so that the flood of the GOSPEL goes out and transforms.
Forgiveness is giving up your right to get even. So, how do you and I forgive someone who does not deserve to be forgiven?
By what power do we do this?
Colossians 3:13b …forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Ephesians 4:32b …forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
God did not wait for us to say I am sorry. He did not wait for us to come running to him so that we could prove ourselves worthy of his forgiveness.
Worse than that, our offenses against God were not just “a one-time thing” as it is for many of our broken relationships.
Romans 5:8-11 …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
→It says we were SINNERS (a sinner is one who practices sin so much that they are defined by it).
→It says we were his enemies (actively and regularly declaring war on his glory with our sin).
The GOOD NEWS is Jesus Christ.
The reason why this church and the power God has given us exists.
As our response to the gospel, we need to live lives that honor him by practicing FORGIVENESS.
See, the gospel is not just about my salvation. It is a movement- a movement of people who forgive!
It is GOOD NEWS that must be shared. It is a power that moves on hearts and transforms lives.
If a wretched, wicked enemy of God who is defined by my practice of sin against him has received a gift I am not deserving in the slightest. If that man can be forgiven, then surely you and I can forgive our neighbor … our brother… our father… our daughter.. our friend of the hurts he/she has caused you or I.
The gospel at work in our lives means the power to forgive which means restoration of relationships.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ok, let’s look at the second proverb that Solomon gives us that is in this same vain of practice.
Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
This is Solomon’s way of calling us to be peacemakers.
We see this all throughout the New Testament too.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Jesus calls the sons of God, peacemakers! What do peacemakers do? They don’t stir up strife and quarrels. They shut them down. They pull back when they see things are getting heated.
Do you do this? Or are you guilty of letting your pride and ego get in the way?
Peacemakers are not people who have no conflict. They are people who seek to diffuse angst and pursue peace in and through that conflict.
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
Romans 12:16 says “Live in harmony with one another...”
I Peter 3:8 says “...Live in harmony with one another...”
We must see that peacemaking and diffusing strife and arguments is the practice of a Christ follower. What are you doing to practice this? How do we practice this? I would contend that it is Christ in you that is the source of true peacemaking. To be a peacemaker you must know the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
JESUS IS: the Prince of Peace! And what did he do to bring us peace?
Isaiah 53:5 …he (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, may we practice true forgiveness as we have been forgiven by our high and holy God and may we pursue peace and defuse strife at all times. May we do this with the power of Christ at work in us. May it be a bright beacon of the transformation of Jesus’ work in and through us.
May it make our marriages, our homes, our parenting, our workplace and our communities places where the gospel of Christ is at work in and through us for God’s glory, our joy and others’ good.