Friday, 11 October 2013

Forgiveness – not Again

If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

Dennis Rainey reminded me of a C. S. Lewis quote "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive." Dennis went on to say, “How true. It's not until forgiveness becomes personal and costly that it takes on its actual size and weight.”

He then went on to say “But perhaps some of what troubles us about forgiveness is that we don't understand what it is ... and what it isn't.

Forgiveness doesn't mean:

  • Excusing what someone did to you
  • Forgetting what happened
  • Denying, or stuffing, your feelings
  • Reconciling instantly every time
It does mean:

  • Embracing the offender--Christ modeled forgiveness at its best when He forgave and welcomed back those who hurt Him the most.
  • Being proactive--When Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34), He was forgiving people before they even asked for it.
  • Surrendering the right to get even--The essence of forgiveness, especially in marriage, is letting go of our rights to punish and see justice done. Forgiveness is evident when one spouse ceases to demand restitution for hurt feelings and wounded pride.

Why is it so hard for some of us to say the words “Please forgive me”?   Occasionally we mutter “sorry” or “if I (fill in the blank), I’m sorry” or “I apologize”.  None of these three common attempts at dealing with a hurt that we have inflicted is adequate.

“Sorry” for what?  Sorry that you got called out or made the other person upset at you?  An “If I” statement is like saying first of all I’m not acknowledging that I did anything wrong and secondly if you are so thin skinned that you need me to apologize here it is.  Lastly is the ever popular I apologize.  We apologize when we accidently bump into someone.  We apologize when we accidently spill coffee on your friend's pants.  The operative word is “accidently”.

When I hurt someone with my words or actions it may not have been intentional but it isn’t an accident.  It is at this point that I must ask the person to forgive me for… and then we must be specific and name exactly what the other person has identified as our transgression.

Scripture tells us to keep “short accounts”.  This means do it as soon as possible once the transgression has been made known.  Don’t let it fester.  Your relationships will benefit from your willingness to humbly admit that you were wrong.

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