This week we will complete our short excursion into the Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard. Please read excerpt 31 “Love’s Like-for-Like”, 32 “Love Abides – Forever”, and 33 “When Love is Secure” found in Provocations. The following week, we will begin a discussion of the practical teachings of Jesus found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
In the excerpt “Love’s Like-for-Like”, Kierkegaard discusses Christian forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount, in the verse immediately following the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. Matt. 6:14. For Kierkegaard, this is not an arbitrary divine law (Jesus will only forgive you, only if you forgive your neighbor). Rather, this teaching is more akin to a natural law such as Newton’s third law of motion that when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts an equal force on the first body. Or as Kierkegaard specifically puts it, “there is no more exact agreement between the sky above and the sea below.”
This excerpt is from the conclusion to Works of Love (attached). There Kierkegaard says that “Forgiveness is forgiveness; your forgiveness is your forgiveness; your forgiveness of another is your own forgiveness; the forgiveness which you give you receive, not contrariwise that you give the forgiveness which you receive. . . It is only an illusion to imagine that one himself has forgiveness, although one is slack in forgiving others. . . . It is also conceit to believe in one’s own forgiveness when one will not forgive, for how in truth should one believe in forgiveness if his own life is a refutation of the existence of forgiveness. . . . For the judgment that you seek against another is the same judgment that you will receive (Matt 7:2).” As Kierkegaard will go onto say, until you forgive someone, you cannot love them as yourself.
For this Tuesday, think about those individuals or people who you need to forgive. Who is keeping you from fully experiencing the forgiveness of God?
Dinner is at 6. The menu is Brunswick Stew. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.Matthew 18: 23-34