Sunday, December 4, 2011
Get Over It--From Faith to Forgiveness
I've heard it said that we live in an age of the perpetually offended. There's some truth in that, I guess. It certainly seems like we do a great deal of tiptoeing around, working too hard to avoid the unpleasantness of strong opinion or the disagreement of firm belief. Sometimes, I just want to scream, "Get over It!"
Unless, of course, I'm the one needing to do the getting over.
I do not like being hurt, ignored, or betrayed any more than anyone else, but it happens, and God has clear instructions for me when it does:
If your brother sins, rebuke him and, if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you and says, "I repent," forgive him.--Luke 17:3-4
God says forgive. He uses small words and short sentences, but the task is not easy. After Jesus explained the need to forgive to the apostles in the above passage, they, during one of their rare moments of clarity, knew exactly what they needed to do it.
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"--Luke 17:5
It takes extra faith to forgive. While unforgiveness has its roots in self-interest and earth-bound understanding, forgiveness steps out of these and casts all of our lot into God's lap. That's why we need faith.
Unforgiveness keeps the focus on us. Forgiveness keeps our focus on God.
Forgiveness operates by the same spiritual mechanisms as obedience. I can neither obey nor forgive if I make earthly justice and my own way the goal. Obedience and forgiveness only happen when I see God rather than myself. I must forgive and obey not because I think I can, but because God tells me to.
Forgiveness and obedience may outwardly change nothing. They right no wrongs, ease no hurts. They do, however, draw me directly to the side of Christ and from there, all things are possible.