When is the hardest thing in the world to do, the best choice to make?
When it’s forgiveness.
You don’t have to be a church attendee to have this pounded into you; Dr Phil or Oprah get the job done there. Forgiveness restores relationships, brings peace amid conflict and changes the face of everything from family to politics.
While forgiveness is hard, it is exponentially amplified when you, the victim, had little to no part in the initial hurt:
- I mean he’s the one who walked away, right?
- She’s the one stabbed me in the back, remember?
- After what he did to me, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness!
That’s what makes verses like this so very hard: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
Forgiving as Christ forgave means unconditional, undeserved, unrestrained forgiveness of those who hurt us most. There’s no call for confession, no sign of regret. Christ forgave us while we were still sinners, and He asks us to do the same.
I believe this particular theological principle is called “NoWayishJoseish” in most of our personal doctrines.
Friends and family won’t let us forget the hurt, little things like songs and calendar dates stir up the pain, and we’ve become so comfortable with the misery we really wouldn’t know what to do without it.
So, we just live with the turmoil and convince ourselves its just the way it is. We continue to make regular visits to the temples and shrines of our distress where we worship what we hate.
But, what if God gave us this incredibly difficult command to forgive, not only to fix others, but to restore the forgiver?
Imagine walking a hiking trail with some friends and you suddenly feel a stinging on your calf and hear the terrifying sound of a rattle rustling back into the bushes.
Your friends sprint into emergency mode, “We have to get you to a hospital!”
But, you refuse.
“I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was on the path, right where I should be. I have been wronged! That snake was way out of line, and I am completely right. I refuse to leave this spot until that snake comes back and apologizes!”
You may be logical. You may be convincing. You may be 100% right.
You’re still going to die.
That snake is not coming back. And, you have to get the poison out of your system.
One of the benefits of forgiveness is that it releases you from the pain, the anger, the past and the poison.
It’s the hardest work you’ve ever done, but sometimes it’s the only way. Don’t forget, when you forgive the deepest wounds, it’s never one and done.
That kind of forgiveness requires multiple applications, but it’s worth it. This is your life we’re talking about!
That snake is not coming back, but we still have to get the poison out of your system.
It’s time to forgive.