Do you want to forgive? Well, yes but…
It is common for us to create this type of distinction regarding forgiveness. People need to understand I am not perfect and I will make mistakes from time to time. So they need to forgive me and get everything back to normal. But the sins against me are somehow more grievous or complex. I can’t just forgive them. There needs to be some retribution or at least some discomfort because… well, how dare they cross me.
In a perfect world there would be no word forgiveness in our vocabulary but we do not live in a perfect world. To forgive is as necessary for us to get through life relationally as food is necessary for us to live physically. We need to forgive others and be humble enough to receive forgiveness as well.
I could take the next few moments to make a list of what forgiveness is and what it isn’t but instead I will describe briefly what it feels like to be forgiven. I am no different than anyone else and I need to be forgiven just like the next person. Barb is the love of my life and I can’t imagine life without her but that has not always kept me from sinning against her in "word or deed."
I remember one particular time when I needed forgiveness and she gave it to me. It went something like this and I will speak in generic terms so that you might be able to relate to the gift I received.
- I sinned against Barb and God as well.
- I created a relational barrier and a personal inner turmoil.
- Barb confronted me directly – it hurt!
- I was crushed for good reason because of what I did to my beautiful wife.
- From the power of God’s grace in Barb’s life she said, “I forgive you.”
- Although I was still disappointed in myself – I was free!
- The power for my restart was based confidently on the love of my wife and my God.
- I didn’t earn this grace and yet it is absolutely mine – a magnificent gift.
One of the great destroyers of a joyful life is not being quick or wanting to give or receive forgiveness. If I break relationships every time forgiveness needs to be involved I will soon be all alone. And most importantly, I will be cut off completely from God if I do not come humbly into His presence and seek His forgiveness. In the passage from Colossians 3 that follows Paul describes a life of forgiveness – both received and given. It is a beautiful life!
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Living in Forgiveness,