Apr. 30, 2021

Point of view: Forgiveness

 
 
Every once in awhile someone will say that you should forgive because it's more for you than the one being forgiven. I'd say that tack comes from psychology instead of God's truth. In that case, it seems to be more of a preoccupation with self than the recipient of the forgiveness. In truth, to forgive needs to be a "spiritual practice", where there is no better opportunity to "mortify" self - something rarely heard of in today's popular Christianity (often more informed by secular psychology than Christ's truth). Forgiveness can be an opportunity to build or rebuild a bridge, instead of burning it.
 
Let's see: did Jesus forgive from the cross with Himself in mind as our Exemplar? No. He forgave, beyond anything we can imagine, because it is the Father's will, and there is a power in forgiveness that can heal those who receive it. It's called grace, the very energy of God. To forgive is not an act of control; it is an act of relinquishment.
 
70x7, He told Peter. Not once, not twice, not 7 times. He calls those who follow Him, to likewise dispense His forgiveness. Because He lives in those whom He calls His temple, by His Holy Spirit.
 
We pray it in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses (debts, sins - the I owe you's and you owe me's...) as we forgive those who trespass against us." He goes on to say, "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:15. That is something of an ouch, yes. But it is vital truth.
 
Yet it is also true that "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7. And to forgive is an act of mercy because Christ Jesus already shed his blood and died to atone for that offense and all others - from the beginning of time until the end of it. That is huge. You and I are the recipients of it. And the dispensers of it. If we've really received it, it heals us, empowers us to rise above that grudge that eats away at our insides.
 
Can we afford to withhold it from anyone else?
 
Here's a thing. I have done stupid and/or evil things. I have received God's grace, His mercy. You have done stupid and/or evil things. You have received God's grace, His mercy.
 
As the old hymn says, "Redeemed, restored, forgiven I am through Jesus' blood..."
 
There may be a formal pronouncement of absolution. Or there may be a time (and frankly I think it's more effective than formalities) to "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16. It is most often that in heart to heart (and one on one) fellowship that forgiveness and restoration can come about most potently and realistically - often because it's to the point and real, not the shotgun out the back door "general" method.
 
Someone else may have done stupid and/or evil things. Christ has forgiven them. Might Jesus be saying, "Go and do likewise?"
 
This is usually about things in our own "domain," without worrying about those issues beyond our pay grade, so to speak... At least that's where it can begin.
 
Wouldn't it be great if the hundredth monkey principle took off with this from a grass roots level, and spread like a wild grass fire throughout the world?
 

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