When you think about it, it’s amazing how often being a Christian is a cake walk. In our culture that is a lot of the time. But then there are those times when being a believer is anything but easy. You know, those times when what we say we believe has to play out in real life with real sacrifices, like when we have to admit a mistake or forgive an injustice?
Some of us in this local fellowship are passing through one of those tough times, and forgiveness may be the very issue we are contending with. I know that there is a sense of injustice hanging over some of our heads and I am praying that all of us can find the liberty of forgiveness.
It has been an odd situation, to say the least, no one is responsible for the decision that has brought this on, and yet the decision was made. Go figure. A word to the wise, it is historically the way this particular church family has handled difficulty. And it is typical of a vision for preservation and attendance growth. Truly it is sobering when a body gives something this obvious a pass. I would expect the body to hold value standards a little higher, especially for the leaders, but it is what it is. I think that is why this hurts so bad. It’s just not going to be easy to move on when the offense, and the hurt, is still hanging out there, and I know that some of you guys are having a hard time.
I want to encourage us all to keep our attitudes in the right place. Jesus is our King. Maybe this will cause us to delve deeper into the depths of forgiveness.
Some make the mistake of thinking forgiveness is a mental eraser, and then feel like we can’t forgive because we can’t forget. Understand, when God says he “will remember your offenses no more” He is not saying that He will give Himself a divine lobotomy, that His memory will become limited. He is saying he will not require us to correct our wrong. And that meaning has not changed when He tells you and I we must forgive as He forgave us (Matt 6). The very word “forgive” comes from a family of words connected to the concept of dismissing someone or something, leaving it behind, letting it go. Freedom over bondage. Sometimes you just have to look at it like a write-off. There will be no collecting of debt, no repayment, just clear the books.
Sometimes it drives us crazy to see something that looks like injustice get a pass, especially when it hurts others. But this gets close to wanting vengeance. Certainly there are times when civil justice is called for, and wanting justice is honorable enough until it becomes selfish or defensive of the wrong things. I think we can all say that there are times when the issue is mostly about our personal feelings. God said “It is mine to avenge,” which the Bible (Ro. 12) quotes in the context of our personal relationships. Leaving it behind, in God’s hands, is the point. It’s not always easy, but it is liberating. Instead of thinking in terms of what should take place so that a restitution is made, let’s try to think in terms of what we have learned and then move on. And, with God’s help, lets pray that we can learn something about ourselves. We can come out of this better than we went in!
Forgiving is an agent of healing. There is nothing more self injurious than a vengeful heart, it torments and twists until we have almost forgotten our point. When we let a sense of vengeance grow in our hearts it becomes like a video that loops over and over and robs us of our joy. At times like that we really need to throw ourselves on God’s grace, and have confidence in the Spirit he has given us. It does not mean we cease from speaking the truth. That would nullify the whole counsel of God. It is important to be clear, straightforward and honest, to be sure, speak the truth in love. Then look to the God.
It means we do not carry a grudge.
This is not always easy – unless you live in a bubble. It is hard enough when the other party listens and admits wrong. It is a little different when the other party reacts with untruths. Still, though, Jesus calls upon us to forgive. Some of the stuff Jesus said about forgiveness is almost scary. He spoke with a near equivalence between our relationship with others and our relationship with God when he talked about forgiveness. I have a feeling some of our discussions in the near future will revolve around the difficulty of forgiving.
Onward and upward.