Tim Carter gave a magnificent chapel sermon at London School of Theology this week. It distilled years of work he’s done on the topic of Forgiveness into one sermon, based on his reading of Colossians 3:5-17.
Forgiveness, he suggested, is a journey and it begins with recognising that there was wrong-doing, and then recognising and setting aside one’s ‘natural’ negative reactions to being wronged. This was the point that interested me the most. He said that the list of sins in 3:5 were the wrong-doing, and that the pile up of words in 3:8 was actually a list of negative responses to being sinned against that we must ‘put off’ if we are seeking to forgive:
anger = our first response to being sinned against
rage/wrath = losing our temper, giving in to and wallowing in that anger
malice = wishing evil in return; dreaming of or plotting revenge
slander = ‘triangling’, trying to involve neutral parties in our feelings against the offender
filthy language/verbal abuse = pulling someone down with words; slagging people off.
Tim urged us, as does the New Testament, to rid ourselves of these natural but wrong reactions, and work towards reconciliation, speaking truth and love.