One of the stories that always makes me laugh is about a man who was rescued from a desert island after 20 years. As he was standing on the deck of the rescue vessel, the captain said to him, "I thought you were stranded alone there for 20 years."
He replied, "I was."
The captain asked, "Then why are there three huts on the beach?"
"Well, that one was where I lived. That other one is where I went to church. That third one is where I used to go to church.”
There are people today who have so much internal turmoil that they're offended at everything, so what do we do? Well, you have two biblical choices when you’ve been hurt. Either you cover the offense, or you confront it.
Now covering an offense is very biblical, but sometimes people have the wrong idea about it. What we tend to think is “I can only forgive you if you know that you've done something wrong. I can only forgive you if you're repentant.” That's a misnomer. Jesus was forgiving the people who crucified him, and they were mocking him. Nobody there was saying, “Forgive me” except the one thief. This is important, folks, so how do we do it?
Peter said this. "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NASB). You know what that word "fervency" means? It was a word that was used for a runner stretching. When God said, "I want you to be fervent,” he was saying, “I’m going to stretch you a little bit. I'm going to make this a little bit harder than just saying, ‘I forgive you.’”
There are some offenses I think God wants you to absorb in order to extend mercy. Why? Because Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (ESV). You don't have to address everything, every time. It's a sign of maturity to let things go sometimes.
If God forgives us, we must forgive others. We base our forgiveness on what God has done for us, not what the other person has done to us. The Bible says that because we've been forgiven much, we can love much (see Luke 7:47), and love covers a multitude of sins when we have a fervency towards the brethren. If we don't understand forgiveness, that means we either haven't been forgiven or don’t understand the forgiveness that God has given to us. That’s why this is so important.
After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.