Of Bacon!(, Sir Francis)

Of Truth

“There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquired the reason, why the word of the lie should be such a disgrace and such an odious charge? Saith he, ‘If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is brave towards God and a coward towards men.’

Of Revenge

“Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon.

When Jesus encountered the paralytic and his friends, if I understand the passage correctly, he suggested that the forgiveness of the man’s sins was less verifiable (i.e. “easier to say”) than the healing. If Jesus said “Be healed” and the man walked, he was healed; but how could they know if he was actually forgiven? So the healing was more visible than the forgiveness, but which was more incredible?

After Jesus forgave the man’s sins, the Pharisees began to mutter, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus doesn’t contradict them. Instead he proves that they are right, just not in the way they expect. He was God.

In the Lord’s prayer and in the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus seems to make it clear that God’s forgiveness of our unfathomable, eternal debt is contingent on our forgiveness of the wrongs done against us. To put it another way: if we cannot bring ourselves to forgive the hurt and pain others have caused us, how can we be said to have understood the great lengths and depths that God, in Jesus, went to forgive us, to bring us back Home?

So what do we make of this call to forgiveness? Is Jesus, in effect, calling us further up and  further in when he calls us to forgive? Is it drudgery and weakness to forgive, or is it the seat of strength, the Prince’s part? In forgiveness, we look down at the world with Jesus, from the cross. In forgiveness we join our Lord in his passion. We choose, in faith that one day things will be right again, to absorb the pain that would otherwise be doubled and trebled, echoing and adding to the resounding disharmony of our terrible history. In forgiveness, we know Him more.

To forgive takes great courage. It is by definition painful. It takes great faith to lift up your rights to God, to trust that He knows best and will deal accordingly. For many of us it is a long way off, but oh for the day when we can pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, without pride and with great love.


~ by justinhong on December 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “Of Bacon!(, Sir Francis)”

  1. Man. Stuff I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time. Thanks for sharing.

    Yeah, I’m realizing that unforgiveness breeds pride, but also blocks healing for both the wronged party and the relationship. Dallas Willard talked about how essentially, we cannot receive the Gospel without being compelled to forgive because God’s forgiveness forever changes our status. I’d like to know that.

  2. “This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.” – Bacon, again

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