Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Forgive You

My church has been doing a church-wide study on relationships and one segment of that focused on forgiveness. Let's have a little pop quiz here on forgiveness. This is straight out of our study guide.

True or False?

  1. A person should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
  2. Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was caused.
  3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4. You haven't really forgiven others until you have forgotten the offense.

All of the above statements are false.

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult lessons we, as Christians, have to learn. Part of the reason for that is because we don't always have the correct perspective about what it actually means to forgive someone who has hurt us, as demonstrated in the above questions. Once we gain and embrace a right perspective of forgiveness, then we can begin to make some progress in actually applying it.

One day after I had broken up another battle between my little grand-daughters and had sent them each to their own corners until the heat died down, we came back together to discuss the matter. Each of them recounted what had happened from their own perspective. I don't recall all of the details of the battle but it was very clear that one had wronged the other and left her hurting. The one who had committed the offense admitted her wrong and apologized for it. The one who had been wronged then said in response "It's okay." This was the typical scenario after a battle as it probably is in your home too, but this time it stopped me dead in my tracks.

It hit me that one of the obstacles I have to overcome when trying to forgive someone who has done me wrong, is the idea that forgiveness means minimizing the offense and the pain that it caused. It's like saying "It's okay to hurt me." That is a distorted view of forgiveness. It's not okay when someone hurts us. So here I was teaching my grand-daughters that it was okay. I stopped them right then and explained that it is was not okay, but God wants us to forgive so we will choose to forgive even though we are hurt. Instead of saying "it's okay" we now say "I forgive you."

I have had to apologize to one of them since then and I can tell you it's far more humbling when you apologize to someone and they respond with "I forgive you" than with "it's okay". Especially when those words come from the mouth of a child. I pray that this will help keep them from developing this distorted view of forgiveness.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

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Irritable Mother said...

Ah, yes. I have been through the same thing - trying to teach that it is NOT OK. But we can forgive.
Once again - thanks for being such a wonderful Grandma.
Love you!

Sue J. said...

I may have done this study, since these questions look very familiar.

There's part of me that wants #3 to be true--that we should have restoration of relationship. But, the reality can be far from that. It would be like saying "It's OK," and just have things roll on merrily, when, in fact, some hurts are so very deep that you can't just go back to the relationship being "OK." It can take years for relationships to be "OK," and, even then, you still have to sometimes work through issues. Sometimes, relationships are never the same.

We will probably always fall short of our ability to forgive; our hearts don't have Jesus' capacity to make things as if they never happened. That is why He is the only one who can claim that He forgives us our sins and cleanses us from our unrighteousness--Praise God for that!

RCUBEs said...

Pride is the thing that gets in the way of forgiveness. But no matter how painful the hurt, we must learn to forgive. Only by His grace we are able to do so. Great post sister Edie. God bless and may He continue to give you discernment and protection...God bless you even more for all the things you do for His glory!

Kelly Combs said...

Forgiveness is a funny thing - everything in our human heart says they don't deserve it, yet God says....

I need to remember to live my life like God says.

Great post!

2Thinks said...

You are a wonderful teacher of the truth of the Word and I love your writings on the subject- all of them!

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

I love this post, Edie! Forgiveness is not the same as saying "It's OK" I'm with you on that one. I've taken to listening in with my kids recently and when they say, "It's OK" I am now stopping them to say, "Not it's not ok, but we say I forgive you," instead.

Thanks for this insight.

Sonya Lee

Sharon@JoyInTheTruth said...

Edie: Thank you for this encouragement. When we have "sibling rivalry" around here (more frequent than I would like!), an apology and asking for forgiveness and forgiving are necessary. We've had to often remind the cherubs that an apology is is a responsibility, it is not a discipline.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy! Amen!~


From the Heart said...

A great post and a wonderful lesson to be learned while a child. That is something that will stay with them throughout their life because their beloved grandmother taught them.
Blessings, Edi

Steve said...

Good post, and God bless you

Stacy Wittkamp said...

I used to feel like forgiving was like "giving in." I remember saying to myself, "I'm so sick of being the bigger person here." :)
As Jesus becomes the Lord of my life and seeks to make me more like him I understand that being less, perhaps to "worldly" eyes, is being more to him.
He knows what will makes us the most happy in the long run.