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?