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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 53

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Proverbs 19:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So, Peter does not mean that love earns God's forgiveness of sins, that it is a propitiation to the exclusion of Christ as mediator, that it regenerates and justifies. He is teaching that love toward one another is not moody, harsh, or obstinate, that it overlooks some mistakes of its friends, that it takes in stride even the harsher manners of others, just like the well-known expression: “Know, but do not hate, the manners of a friend.” Nor was it without design that the apostle taught so frequently concerning this duty that the philosophers call epiekeia, or leniency. For this virtue is necessary for harmony, which cannot last unless pastors and churches mutually overlook and pardon many things.

Pulling It Together

Presidential pardons, bestowed by outgoing US presidents, are received with gratitude but also sometimes, with irritation by those who disagree with a president’s choices. Nevertheless, the mercy of a ruler is refreshing, according to the proverb. If a president excuses the offenses of some whose crimes we might find unpardonable, we ought to find mercy to overlook the faults and even the outright offenses of the friends of Jesus (John 15:15). This is sensible public decency and promotes concord in Christian fellowship. While our charity ought not to be mistaken as something that justifies us to God, we rejoice with thankfulness that God has covered our own sins. Just so, we ought to pray daily, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer: Set me free of my debts, God, and empower me to forgive others, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Andrew McKusick

Posted September 2, 2015 at 6:14am

In regard to epiekeia, see what is happening in Rome: Pope to Make It Easier for Church to Forgive Women for Having Abortions https://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-makes-abortion-easier-to-forgive-in-year-of-mercy-1441111395

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