We ended Part 1 with this observation: … by the deliberate (and often difficult) decision to forgive someone, we avoid the bitterness that comes from being an unforgiving person. Perhaps forgiveness shows the measure of our faith that God is able to do in another person what we have not been able to accomplish by our relationship with them. Matt.7:1-5
Our obedience to forgive another is one proof of our new life in Christ. Forgiveness does not need to be invited by those who sin against us. We don’t need to feel responsible for their response to our acts of forgiveness. We needn’t be bothered by not being able to “forgive and forget.” We may be called on to forgive multiples times in response to memories.
We give up passing judgment when we get out of the way and deliberately extend forgiveness. We are not responsible for their response…and by forgiving them, we no longer take responsibility for what God should do with them. The negative chains forged by unforgiveness are broken. Unforgiveness has a negative impact in both directions…toward the one we refuse to forgive and back towards us.
A forgiving spirit reflects our growing confidence that God does all things well. We recognize that often we won’t understand how or why. Therefore, we choose to forgive even what we cannot forget. (…the ‘70 times 7’?) This benefits the ones we forgive and benefits us. We forgive, but we prayerfully refuse to be complicit in the sin that we forgive in others. Finally, we allow Jesus to show us when we are “speck-inspecting” through the lens of our own “beams.”
Learning to “let go” is important here. This may be related to issues of learning to forgive ourselves. Our treasure, says the Lord, should be stored up in Heaven. Our junk, He also instructs, should be where God puts it – buried in the depths of the sea. Could this means that if we are “rich” because of good things in this life, we should invest the memories of these experiences in the bank of Heaven for their safekeeping and our eternal enjoyment. When we hang on to the things God has deemed worthy of being buried, we are to be pitied. But, we can change, by God’s grace and redemptive energy. Finally, the less “junk” we store up around us, the clearer the image of Jesus is in us to bless those around us. This includes the tendency to “store up” resentment toward others.
REMEMBER: Forgiveness is a choice. When we choose to forgive, our actions exhibit the life of Christ; we do this by the enabling of His Spirit within us. Refusing to forgive another forges shackles that we break only by repentance towards God, thus releasing our hold on another and his or her hold on us.
These observations may be a bit random, but I hope they generate thoughtful discussion and, perhaps for some, joyful release from burdens carried for a long time. Next we’ll look at ways caregivers can help children understand some of the principles we’ve been considering, especially in the context of family life.
…forgive whatever grievance
you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col.3:13