A friend recently posted a question on her Facebook wall:
If 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 Corinthians 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.
Whether 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 done 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.
By 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.