“The Christian should be an inexhaustible source of forgiveness” by Herman Bavinck

“The metaphors of turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, surrendering your coat, and adding the cloak are explained in Matthew 5:44: ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’

The idea is that evil must be repaid with good, curses with blessing, hatred with love, sin with forgiveness, misery with compassion.

God acts this way, too (Matt. 5:45-48).

Once more, that is not apathy, no Stoic passivity, no condoning the enemy’s behavior. On the contrary, Jesus rebukes His enemies and pronounces woe upon the Pharisees. But while He is reprimanding the sin, He is loving and blessing the enemy.

Indeed, He commands us to forgive those who wrong us as often as seventy times seven– that is to say, countless times, again and again (Matt. 18:21-34).

The Pharisees said that one must forgive three times. Peter boldly says: Isn’t seven times enough?

But Jesus will have nothing to do with numbers or calculations here. The Christian should be an inexhaustible source of forgiveness.

After all, Christians need forgiveness themselves (Matt. 18:33).

Certain evidence that we love our enemies is when we pray for them in all sincerity. Righteous anger is certainly permissible and obligatory, but it must be an anger without sin, not long-lasting, and not rising rashly (Eph. 4:26-27; Ps. 4:4; 37:8).

‘The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God’ (James 1:20; cf. Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7). And vengeance is never fitting; it belongs to God (Deut. 32:35).

Love thinks no evil (1 Cor. 13) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 439-440.

“Not paying attention is a great sin” by Herman Bavinck

“We are to develop a Christian character with respect to the intellect. To that end we must first of all instill a love of truth– not just saving truth but also scientific truth and truth in everyday life.

This love of truth is not only of formal (logical) truth- that is, not just the freedom of our propositions from contradiction– but also the love of material, factual truth.

Christianity has given us knowledge of God as the Truth (John 17:3; 14:6) and given us proper love for the truth, not for its own sake (which is ultimately for our own sake, egotistically), but made possible for the sake of God.

The Word, a lamp unto our feet, the truth (John 17:17), enables us to pursue truth, to recognize it, to distinguish it from the lie (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 2:14-16; 1 John 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:21).

Indifferentism and skepticism are therefore not permitted for the Christian– they are a sickness of the soul that needs healing. And we are called to abound, to mature, to grow in knowledge (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12 and 13; Phil. 1:9; 4:8; 1 Thess. 5:21; Titus 3:8-9; 2 Pet. 3:18).

But the arena of the intellect contains other faculties, each of which also needs to be developed. These include the capacity to pay attention and to observe, for to observe is better than the fat of rams (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22).

Not paying attention is a great sin (2 Chron. 33:10; Prov. 1:24; Zech. 7:11).

In every field, attentiveness, both spiritual and natural, is so difficult. We must compel our senses to observe well, and we must practice this. To see, hear, touch, and read well is such an art.

Next, there is memory and the capacity of recollection: the cupbearer forgot Joseph (Gen. 40:23); Israel repeatedly forgot the covenant, forgot the Lord (Deut. 4:23; 6:12; 8:11-16; 32:18), forgot God’s works and wonders (Ps. 78:7, 11), forgot their Savior (Ps. 106:21); we are forgetful hearers (James 1:25).

The believer, however, is seized with a desire to remember it all-God’s acts of loving-kindness (Ps. 48:9), His works (Ps. 77:12)-in order to remember His word, law, and ordinances and not forget them (Ps. 119:16, 61, 83, 176).

The same is true in the natural arena: kindnesses should be inscribed in marble, but insults written in sand.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 406.