Posted by: Ed | May 24, 2009

FORGIVENESS – IT KEEPS COMING UP

One of the thing that people keep bringing up is the subject of forgiveness, by that I mean OUR FORGIVING OF OTHERS. You can’t go through life without people wounding you. And Jesus made it clear that walking in His way will mean walking in the way of forgiveness. There is a lot of misunderstanding about it and it is really hard to do when you have truely been hurt.

Last Monday I got an email question about forgiveness. Even though I’ve made it generic, I think you’ll be able to follow it. Here’s my response.

Dear _______,

Forgiveness is tough! There are some great things written about it by a wonderful Christian thinker named Lewis Smedes that I would recommend.

Here are some of my thoughts:
There is a distinction we need to make between forgiveness and restoration. Sometimes forgiveness means that we enter back into the same relationship with the other person. Other times it does not. It does not mean that we are required to let a person keep hurting us or others. It does not mean that they should be instantly trusted & we should put ourselves in a position for the to hurt us again. There are some times that this IS what it means, but not always.

Another issue is what we can think of as levels of forgiveness. It takes a while for forgiveness to work its way all the way through our being. At first forgiveness may be a choice, an act of the will that we don’t really feel like doing at all. We can get to a point that we think we feel like we’ve forgiven them, but then something triggers some old feelings (like them screwing someone else over) that make us realize that at some level we haven’t really forgiven them. That is an opportunity to invite God into the process. It’s then we realize we have to once again choose forgiveness not bitterness. It’s then we realize that we will need an infusion of grace from God to really forgive. Most profound hurts will require several cycles of this. When we don’t want to be around someone whom we have forgiven, that is at least an occasion to bring that hurt to God.

May the Lord give you the grace to keep forgiving & the wisdom to know what that means in terms of the actions you should take.

Shalom,

Ed

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Responses

  1. I was mad!!! and making plans to stay mad*%##* at someone for a long time when I read your blog and decided, “Okay, April, give it up and just forgive.” The timing was too perfect to be coincidence. Thanks for the “gentle coax toward righteousness”-(translated into “Journeyish”-Thanks for
    the “kick in the butt”.)

  2. Thanks Ed. This is really close to home.

    One of our problems culturally is that forgiveness is usually approached therapeutically, from the aspect of “What is in it for me? … I will feel better if I can only forgive this person.” Such selfishness belies the whole nature of forgiveness, which is for … giving. It is a GIFT to the other.

    Conversely, forgiveness is best treated as a subset of Godliness – or in April’s terms, “righteousness.” We do it because we are image bearers of the forgiving God.

    I say this not because I have it mastered but precisely because it is such a struggle. Your post is helpful. So too is a book by Miroslav Volf, “Free of Charge”, which is not an easy read but worth the effort for those wanting to deeply reflect on this life-changing topic.


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