Pardoned, Struggling to Forgive

18 May

As I was reading a book to my son during our nightly “Girly-Book Time” there was a story of a non-Christian consistently proverbially battering a Christian and then accusing her of not being willing to forgive. Now, I am not suggesting that he was right, as the type of forgiveness one gives is largely dependent upon the type of contrition there is. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and others to act responsibly. To forgive may be required, but reasonable hesitancy is not out of the question.

It seems lately the topic of Forgiveness has come up a lot for me. Perhaps this is because when you are as crazy as I am, people frequently feel as if I need to be consistently seeking forgiveness. The reality is that my life, just like everyone else’s, is a tremendous lesson in God’s unfailing grace, despite my inability to consistently be worthy.

As we look at human forgiveness, we are forced to look at how pathetic it normally is. First of all, we often feel as if we are doing people a favor when we forgive them. We look at how we have some cosmic scorecard on which we are now ahead. While we rarely admit this to ourselves, we really usually feel like someone else can never catch up. How many of us “forgive” a good friend or spouse, knowing that we will bring it up later?

I feel like this is unacceptable and far less than that which is required of us. As I read Evan’s blog earlier this week, I am reminded how many of us have a thirst for the justice of others. I’ve heard it said that we always want justice for others and forgiveness for us. But I think when we balkanize the characteristics of God like that, we start to lose the depth of each.

God’s true justice encompasses our forgiveness. There is no doubt that God’s plan includes the absolute forgiveness of our sins. And while God forbid that we continue sinning that grace may abound, there is clearly continued grace for those things we have done. Forgiveness at the cross is plentiful, and I am grateful for that.

Now, to juxtapose the fact that forgiveness is not merely forgetting the wrong that was done, but rather choosing not to hold it over that person on the Cosmic balance sheet. Ah, but there’s the rub. It is exceedingly difficult to give biblical forgiveness so that we aren’t keeping score and yet treat a sinner with the proper trepidation. How in the world can we do this perfectly? To start, I don’t think we can do it. In fact, I find the only way I can adequately come close is to be overly cognizant of my own depravity.

Maybe that is the trick, but I think God knows that our justification leads to sanctification. The legal sanctification happens right away, and the behavioral sanctification will come. Doubtlessly, we still have Romans 7 style battles with sin, but the reason we can shout that there is no condemnation with authority is because we are walking more and more after the Spirit.

God is already offended by our sinful nature and our sinful choices. He continues to forgive us, yet our offense to Him is as great as it can be. Nevertheless, we are forgiven. How can we do less? My assertion is that we shouldn’t. We should completely forgive in the legal sense. However, since we don’t have the ability to regenerate a life, we need to help our fellow humans by keeping them from the situations that could cause them to stumble or have a sacrificed testimony. And, I think, that is the best we can do!

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One Response to “Pardoned, Struggling to Forgive”

  1. Jenni May 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Someone told me fairly recently that if I could imagine grabbing someone by the lapel with both fists, if I could see one fist as representing my need for that person to acknowledge how they had hurt me and the other as representing my need for them to pay for hurting me, forgiveness would be letting to with both hands. I really liked that because forgiveness looks so different in nearly every situation, but that seemed like a good base understanding… it isn't about how I view or interact with the wounder in the future but how I handle their past treatment.

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