I Assume You Won’t Forgive Me

A friend recently posted a question on her Facebook wall:

ImageGenIf you could choose to have your thoughts blasted to everyone you know for one day, or choose to have their thoughts blasted to you, which would be worse?

As I thought about it, as much as I would NOT want to know everyone’s thoughts, I realized that I’d rather be blasted with everyone else’s than share my own.

The answer may surprise you.  I’m just not convinced ANYONE would forgive me if I thought something unkind.

On the whole, I have noticed this with Christians: they downright stink at forgiveness.

This is the major calling of the church: a definitive way we can show that we belong to Christ and are Christians. We are told by Jesus, “You are My disciples if you love one another.” John 13:35

And what does love look like according to the Bible?  “Keeping no record of wrongs.” 1 x-love-keeps-no-record-of-wrongsCorinthians 13:5

The disciples themselves appeared to have loathed forgiving as well.  “How many times do we have to do this?” they asked Jesus. He gave them a pretty high number in return, meaning, “Keep it up.  You’re called to never stop forgiving.”  (Matthew 18:22)

Why, then, does the church truly stink at this?  Why can I only think of two human beings in my entire life who have not struggled with forgiving completely? Why is it that almost everyone else in my life – everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian bring bitter complaints against other people to me often? I’m no fool.  I know they’re probably doing the same about me behind my back to others – or if they’re not, it’s only a matter of time.  Why are we Christians destroy relationships over and over again due to a lack of forgiveness?  There have definitely been people who refused to forgive me. It’s heart-wrenching.

Whebetter-not-a-bitter-personther it’s the line, “The church hurt me, so I walked away,” all the way down to, “I just can’t stand so-and-so in my Bible study because of something they said to me last year,” it’s never-ending.

Honestly, and this may be hard-hitting (You may not forgive me for this post!), if you find yourself frequently unable to forgive many people in your life, you should evaluate your own salvation.  This is a mark of a Christian BECAUSE the Christian knows what he or she has done to put Christ on the cross.

We have a spiritual blindness to our own sin.  This blindness makes us think that the sins cat-sees-lion-mirrordone to us are somehow so much worse than the ones we did that nailed Christ to the cross.  We think we’re better and would never commit the atrocities that others do, not seeing our own base natures and that we are only where we’re at because of Christ.  We do not see it a PRIVILEGE to forgive, because, in doing so, we accomplish something that an unbeliever cannot fathom.  Forgiveness only happens in God’s grace. Without the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, we would never have the ability to show true grace and mercy.

Forgiveness does NOT mean allowing an evil person control of your life.  It does not mean choosing to ignore a crime and not reporting it to the police.  It does not mean not separating yourself from danger. It also does not mean fully trusting another human being. It may not even mean forgetting.

But it DOES mean, with fellow believers, loving and seeing them as pardoned from that sin, as guilty of it no more because of their standing with Christ, and that it’s something you don’t talk about or dwell on in your mind. It’s not something you share with others, or hold against that person. You make smart decisions to protect yourself and your family, and then you move on mentally and emotionally.  This kind of transformed attitude can only happen by God’s grace, but I think that many believers resist God’s grace in an attempt to arrogantly elevate themselves to a place of judge in others’ lives.

living-as-forgiven-people-posterframeBy refusing to keep up the process of forgiveness, even if you have to forgive over and over again each day, you make yourself just as guilty as your offender.  Choose daily to forgive.  When the thought comes up, give it over to Christ. Choose to never speak to others about it again (unless it’s a Biblical counselor or a spouse). Find things to do to bless that person, even if it’s just to pray for them. Confess your own sins to the Lord and others so that you humbly see yourself properly.

Let’s be an obvious difference in this world and heal our body-of-Christ relationships.  And let’s do it by starting with forgiveness.

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4 thoughts on “I Assume You Won’t Forgive Me

  1. Wow. Very good, thought provoking post. Forgiveness is hard. It takes work sometimes. It takes dying to self always. And, “It always goes to those who don’t deserve.” (Matthew West, “Forgiveness”)

    I have struggled with bitterness, choosing not to forgive other believers for several years because of how badly they had hurt me. I tried to forgive sometimes, but then would take up that hurt again and wear it like a badge. Voddie Baucham’s sermons on youtube about forgiveness really helped me to understand what forgiveness should look like, and helped me to be able to finally let go of that hurt. I still remember the transgressions. As Voddie Baucham points out, we are not able to truly forget. If we forget things then other people start thinking we may have dementia, because the human mind is not designed to forget. But, I have finally learned that to forgive is to write off the debt that those people owed me for the hurt that they had caused. That debt was paid in full at the cross. And I chose to take off the badge that I had been wearing for far too long.

    Trust, however, is a different issue. I don’t know that I would ever be able to trust those people again. It would take a lot to get to that point. But I don’t hate them and I’m not bitter toward them anymore. And there was such freedom when I let that go!! It seriously felt like I had physically lost 10 pounds or so! The bitterness was gnawing at me all the time.

    But, truly, one thing that I realized also is that by me choosing not to forgive, I was sinning against God who has commanded us to forgive. My sin of unforgiveness was just as great as the sins that the other believers had committed against me. We have to see our sin the way God sees it in order to call it what it is so that we can truly repent from that sin.

    Thank you for this post. I think it is all too common for we who are in the church to keep records of wrongs done against us. I know it takes an act of my will to mentally burn up my record book and do as Christ did in Colossians 2:14, “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” May we all choose to follow Christ’s example in this!!

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    • Good testimony. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Baucham. I’ll have to check those out.

      You’ve been hurt so much too. It’s amazing to see how God has worked in your heart! ❤

      Like

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