Monday, February 13, 2012

Handling Forgiveness

This idea popped into my head while discussing some biblical issues with my daughter awhile back. Her non-Christian friend commented that since God gave us free will then we are free to make a choice and it's 'all good' - with a controversial topic being discussed.   Perplexed as my daughter was, she couldn't think of a response at that moment so she asked me later.   I told her that yes & no regarding the whole issue of free will and choice.   We are given free will to choose.   We can choose what's right or wrong, truth or untruth, God or the world.    But when it comes down to God's word and how we are to live, there are many instances where we DON'T get a choice!   Period!   No gray area!   You believe or you don't!   You are either the tree that bares good fruit or bad fruit.  We can't pick some things out of the bible to follow and then discard the rest.

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself." - Augustine

There are so many instances in life and what we see daily that can fall in line with the above quote, such as. . . .
  • I can't say I believe in God's blessings of wealth, prosperity and then discard where he says we are to look after the poor (and don't forget orphans/widows) - Matthew 19:20-24
  • I can't say I believe in the sanctity of marriage and then bail when we hit a rocky path (note today's approx. 50% divorce rate) - Matthew 5:31-32
  • I can't say I believe that children are a blessing but then say that the kids I have are enough, don't bless me anymore God! - Psalm 127: 3-5
  • I can't say I believe that Jesus was persecuted and died for me yet I don't think as a Christian I am subject to any level of discomfort for my faith - Mark 8:34-38
  • And this one being the hardest for me . . . . I can't say that I believe God has forgiven me yet I don't feel someone else is worthy of forgiveness - Luke 17:3, Matthew 6:14-15
Yes, we are to rebuke out of love hoping to achieve repentance so we can forgive and restore the relationship but we live in a broken world.  Evil exists and it's real as it manifests in the hearts of so many.  I've struggled with what forgiveness is supposed to look like then if I don't get repentance from someone.  Max Lucado, in his book Cast of Characters, had an idea. . . .
"To forgive someone is to admit our limitations. We've been given only one piece of life's jigsaw puzzle. Only God has the cover of the box. To forgive someone is to display reverence. Forgiveness is not saying the one who hurt you was right. Forgiveness is stating that God is fair and he will do what is right. After all, don't we have enough things to do without trying to do God's work too?"
So this got me thinking of things that I've also been dealing with emotionally in my life recently.  And the question occurred to me - Do I have a choice to forgive those who have hurt me and continue to spread hurt or not?   Yes.  No.  I don't get a choice.  I am to forgive.  Then I can be free to let God do the rest with the other party involved.  Forgiving someone who's wronged me is for me; not always them.  It's saying I forgive for the past while also saying that from this point forward I'm a new person.  What was done before will not be acceptable now.  A chasm in the relationship has occurred with a new beginning.  No longer allowing abuse.  Yes, Forgiveness is for me. 
For me personally, the idea of forgiveness has been a struggle.  How do I forgive someone who is blatantly unrepentant and set on continuing to emotionally harm/hurt others?  This has led to researching what forgiveness is NOT. . . . .

Forgiveness is NOT approving or diminishing the sin done against me, it's NOT enabling those who keep doing wrong, it's NOT denying what was done, it does NOT need an apology back, it's NOT about forgetting or ceasing to feel the pain, it may NOT be a one-time occurrence, it leaves room for justice, it does NOT automatically extend trust back to those who damaged our trust, and most importantly. . . . forgiveness IS NOT always about reconciliation.

*Thnx to Mark Driscoll's blog posting on Forgiveness at Mars Hill*

*This post taken from my previous blog - wanted to repost here*


  1. My answer to my daughter when she had a similar conversation with a friend, "We are free to choose but we are not free to choose the consequences. Choices either take us closer or farther away from God. We choose which way we are going." Marc Driscoll's blog helped me too.

  2. Ruth, sorry your comment didn't post at first - it sent to spam for some reason! *confused*

    I like that line about not being free to choose the consequences - that is the key! We can do what we think we want, but ultimately He chooses the outcome - so we can either focus on glorifying Him or ourselves. . . I choose Him. ;)