Forging Forgiveness

When someone has slapped you down repeatedly, even when you didn’t realize, for years, your denigration, how do you forgive?  The only way comes from recognizing how God has forgiven us. Each of us creatures have a sprinkling of less than righteous human characteristics such as tempers, sassiness, unpure thoughts, desire for retaliation, selfishness, egotism, among others.  These peculiarities keep us from achieving forgiveness of others which would ultimately bring freedom to ourselves.

When we say the heady, “If so-and-so can go to law school, then I can too!” it falls short of  saying, “If God can forgive a terrible sinner, then I can too.”  We are NOT God.  Yet, as Christians, the Spirit of God does dwell within us, making us capable of far more than we can imagine. Jesus does command us to forgive 70 times 7, usually interpreted as meaning endlessly. It goes along with the turn-the-other-cheek philosophy also taught in scripture (Matt. 5:39).  We don’t need to punish the offending person as God has promised, “Vengeance is mine.  I will repay, saith the Lord.” Christ followers are forgiven, so forgiven people should be forgiving people.

Long ago, a relative disappointed and hurt me, until we realized she had Alzheimer’s.  Forgiveness came easily then, to just love her. Pity plays a part in the emotional side of forgiveness. It also becomes easy, though painful, to forgive when you watch someone fall into sin and see their character sucked out of them until they become a sham of their former self. Grace is behavioral from the spiritual side of forgiveness. Grace sneaks in as a gift and does not appear comprehensible to us until we come to recognize the grace of God in our own lives. Grace permeates our soul and gradually teaches us how to react.

Do you have a forgiveness story?

Bibliography:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_science_of_forgiveness_an_annotated_bibliography

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About 9awalsh

A genealogist and writer who has uncovered legacy stories which must be told. I also write a blog, Deciphering Life, trying to figure out why life becomes so tangled -- www.9awalsh.wordpress.com
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3 Responses to Forging Forgiveness

  1. 9awalsh says:

    Today (9/11/13), Max Lucado published — The Bible says vengeance is God’s. He will repay. (Romans 12:19) What a great reminder! Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice, it just entrusts it to God. We tend to give too much or too little. But the God of justice has the precise prescription.

    God can discipline your abusive boss. He can soften your angry parent. He can bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice, it just entrusts it to God. Unlike us, God never gives up on a person. Never. Long after we’ve moved on, God is still there, probing the conscience, stirring conviction, always orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job.

    When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. No one owns a secret formula. AS LONG AS YOU’RE TRYING TO FORGIVE, YOU ARE FORGIVING. Stay the course and you’ll find a way to be strong even when you’ve been hurt. You will get through this!

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  2. Celeste Walker says:

    I may not be a regular church-goer but I’ve always lived by the rule (I think it’s paraphrased from Mathew or Luke) “do unto others as you have them do to you”. It is a simple test for your conscience. However, if you live in a world which is governed by rules that say “all’s fair in love and war” and “to the victor go the spoils” then your approach to others frees your conscience to do as you wish because you place the responsibility for your actions at the feet of the other, who is obviously willfully blind or stupid or whatever other excuse the individual who is lacking in moral conscience can reason and they find just cause for their actions. So I guess my other rule is to judge people by their actions and how they treat others and not by their words.

    I think it’s easy to forgive when the actions of the other were spontaneous or isolated to one incident, but it is very difficult to forgive when the actions occurred repeatedly and over a long period of time. I work in court and I see people being sentenced and that factor is considered when people are sentenced. If the action of the accused took place over a period of time the court considers that at some point the accused could have stopped but chose not to and intentionally invoked pain and suffering on the victim.

    So I guess what I’m saying is it’s very easy to forgive over an isolated incident and I’ve done this many times in my life but I can’t forgive when the persons actions occurred over time and were willful. I guess I don’t believe that all should be forgiven. Some people have to live with their actions.

    I’m sorry this is not the story of forgiveness you were hoping for. I guess I have a lot of work to do.

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    • 9awalsh says:

      I am so glad you commented, Celeste! Yes, that is the kind of story I wanted to hear!

      I do agree with you that it is easy to forgive isolated incidents, especially when the person asks for foriveness! But, when it is repetitive, and the guilty person wants to sweep it under the carpet with no repentance or reconciliation, there is a problem.

      Remember the Hawthorne story “The Scarlet Letter”? Too bad we don’t have those rules today with adultresses wearing a red “A” and liars wearing a giant “L” to warn others! Ha!

      Being able to forgive while the sin continues is a real stretch, but must be done for our own sake. Besides, God has promised he will take care of it. Did you see my first comment with today’s devotional from Max Lucado?

      Hugs to you, Celeste!

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