Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Letting Go of the Wrong: FORGIVENESS

And JESUS said, “Father, forgive them, 
for they know not what they do." 
(Luke 23:34a)
That was Jesus' prayer on the cross for those who were torturing Him in the most inhuman manner imaginable while they were torturing Him. Jesus' compassion is perfect. Mine is not. You can't tell me that man who got behind the wheel despite the fact that he was so drunk he could barely walk didn't know exactly what he was doing before he killed that mother and child. You can't tell me that man didn't know exactly what he was doing when he kidnapped that little girl and took her life. ...the truck driver who was in too much of a hurry to heed a stop sign... that surgeon and his 1%... the terrorists who flew occupied planes into occupied buildings... that person who put their love of money before the well being of your child... that woman who aborted her baby after choosing to have unprotected sex... that judge who denied you claim when God knows you were in the right... your brother who drove your family's business in the ground... that woman who let your child drown... that boss who laid you off... the landlord who evicted you and your kids because his friend wanted your house...


And if they didn't, they're guilty of a level of stupidity that ought to be punishable by law. It tears us up inside. Then we're asked, "How many days of our lives are we going to give to that person who did this horrible thing to us? He's not worth it." Wow. What a fabulous #@%*!$^ idea. Why didn't I think of that?? Because it's not about him, is it. It's about us: the wronged, the victims.

No, the person who wronged you is not worth dwelling on, but what happened to you is. What you've lost, the pain you felt then, the pain you feel now, the pain your loved one feels or felt, THAT is worth thinking about every day forever because it's going to be there every day forever. It's worth yelling about, screaming about, complaining about, punching about, obsessing about. But what you're losing by obsessing about it isn't. Don't hold on to the hate: it's not worth losing the love. Don't hold on to the anger: it's not worth losing the happiness.

And no, despite our have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too-because-we-all-have-at-least-two-cakes-anyway modern American culture, you cannot have both. Our hearts just aren't built for that (Matthew 6:24). I'm not asking you to force yourself to "be okay with" the event that changed the rest of your life, or took the life of someone you love, or changed a million lives or took the lives of thousands. No one can do that. I'm not telling you to "get over it," or "own it," or "look at the bright side," or "move on," or any other of pop culture's less than helpful cliché remedies for surviving injustice. I am asking you to forgive.

...whatever "to forgive" means.

To forgive means to acknowledge the fact that Jesus made up for the sin that was committed against you. He died for it and for the person who did it to you. The latter is an unpleasant thought at first glance, but it's true nevertheless. Whether that person believes and receives the benefits of the forgiveness that Jesus earned for him isn't up to you. That's between him and God, and that's what you and I aren't supposed to judge. We are, however, supposed to judge each other's (AND our own!) actions as right or wrong. We are not only able to judge the wrongness of actions: we're obligated to (Matt. 18:15-17Gal. 6:1-21 Thess. 5:14; James 5:19-20; etc.). Just as we are obligated to forgive the actions that are wrong.
Forgiveness is a fact. Forgiveness exists objectively apart from ourselves, apart from our feelings, apart from our hurt and anger and injustice. That person is forgiven whether you forgive him or not, so why refuse to believe it? Why do we hang on to the resentment and bitterness for years, decades, even unto death? BECAUSE FORGIVENESS IS INHERENTLY UNFAIR, that's why. It isn't fair because none of us earn it. Jesus earned it for us on the Cross in the single most blatant act of injustice known in heaven and on earth (2 Cor. 5:21) where God allowed Jesus, entirely sinless, to become sin in our stead. Forgiveness is a gift.

So, I suppose practically speaking, the correct question for us to ask is, "How do I live with forgiveness when, because of what that person did, I can barely live at all?"

Read about focusing on the good in
Or to read the answer to the above question, click on

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