It’s crucial to distinguish between personal wrongs, which we must be willing to forgive, and deliberate attacks on the gospel of Christ, which the Lord will judge. Paul drew that distinction in his letter to his young friend Timothy.
First, Paul wrote with respect to an opponent of the gospel: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (2 Timothy 4:14-15).
The “harm” Alexander had done to Paul was not to him personally but to his message, and he was now engaged in stirring up opposition to Timothy’s proclamation of the gospel.
Then, as if to plainly contrast and distinguish between those who oppose God’s work and those who personally wrong us, Paul followed with these gracious words: “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them” (2 Timothy 4:16).
How sad that Paul’s fellow Christians would desert the apostle in his hour of deep need! What should be done to them? Surely they’re deserving of his righteous anger. Not so. Paul said, “May it not be charged against them.”
Lord, help us to be gracious too.
You sacrificed Your life for us—
You shed Your blood so we could live;
So help us, Lord, to follow You,
To love each other and forgive. —Sper
Treat others' faults as graciously as you do your own.