7 Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. 8 Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8 CJB
“If you really forgave me,” she said, “You’d just go on like nothing happened. If you don’t, you are judgmental and don’t have any compassion. What a bitter person you are!”
“If you were a real Christian you would leave it in the past.” he said, scowling behind a face full of anger and frustration.
The lie being shouted into the tender, hurting places is this:
Forgiveness means I pretend nothing bad has happened.
All too often this gross and terrifying perversion of truth becomes the mantra by which women keep getting beat up, men return, broken and crushed, to unfaithful wives, children abused in silence, and we all keep working diligently to please those who are unwilling to acknowledge that any of their own behavior was destructive.
We exchange the kindness and grace of forgiveness for a contract to endure further abuse in silence and it’s a contract signed in blood, tears, and heartache.
So, here’s the truth of it.
When Joseph’s brothers beg him for forgiveness, in Genesis 50:17, they are asking him to take a stand “above it” and to “lift off” the weight of the trespass.
When used in the New Testament, forgiveness speaks of letting go of a “mutual claim” or “sending away” the offending issue/person.
That my friends, is how we approach our Lord, is it not? And we are to be like Him!!
“…one who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.” Luke 7:47b CJB
In the life of a Christian forgiveness is a requirement to live honestly.
I only need to close my eyes for a few seconds before a litany of my own desperate need for grace, the many times of broken promises to love Him and my neighbor, the moments (and years) of weakness, un-gratefulness, unkindness rolls across my mind’s eye…
When I think of His great love and compassion, a Divine and unending benevolence when I deserve it so little, then offering that kindness to another for their actions becomes a much more simple concept.
I know I have been forgiven much. I will love much. I choose to do so. I must.
Yet, this can never mean I am going to walk, blindly, head-on into a sucker punch when I know that is how you roll.
Every blow after the first becomes a choice to accept abuse.
Having gained something from our shared experience, which you might call criticism, judgmental, or bitterness, our relationship is irrevocably changed.
Through wisdom and hard-won discernment I can forgive you wholeheartedly and still walk cautiously around you. But, I didn’t arbitrarily change the situation, you did. We did. Whether by something we did or didn’t do, we’ve changed course.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the offender. It has everything to do with me recognizing the inflicted pain of your actions and choosing to let go, lifting the burden and putting into hands far greater than mine.
I do this so bitterness won’t find fertile soil and the poison doesn’t spread to the rest of my soul.
Honestly, forgiveness is the easy part.
Repentance and reconciliation are much harder, although they will seem effortless when compared to the process and beauty of restored relationship.
But, repentance looks backward just long enough to see the deviation and recognize the harm done before determining to acknowledge, apologize, and make a radical 180 degree change.
And unless we look back at the carnage, we can’t reconcile.
Without reconciliation, there will be no restoration.
“Forgiveness means I forget everything you did to hurt me”