Friday, September 9, 2011

Learning to Forgive

As believers we are called to forgive others. This is an act of obedience. Not to mention, it'd be pretty hypocritical for us not to forgive others, considering He's forgiven us.

But what about when someone hurts you or someone you love? Intentionally. How do you forgive someone who has acted maliciously? 

With the anniversary of 9/11, I know many of those who lost loved ones are facing this same question. How can they forgive men who hijacked planes and flew them into buildings? How can you forgive men who killed so many innocent people? Who took fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters. And on purpose. All to serve a violent, vengeful god, whom they call Allah. (Why would they even want to serve such a god? Don't get me started on that.)

How can you forgive such people? This issue has been heavy on my heart. And though the timing is fitting, I'm not talking about 9/11.

Forgiveness is a hard issue. If I'm honest with myself, I'm sure a difficulty to forgive has something to do with me not recognizing my own sin and what it means that I am forgiven.

Over the years, I've come to believe it's as much about us as it is about the other person. It's not just releasing that other person from their sin... it's releasing yourself. It's allowing yourself to feel peace. To be angry, yes. But to deal with that anger and eventually move beyond it.

I once heard it said this way, "Forgiveness means saying, 'It was wrong. It mattered. And I release you.'" (Taken from Wild At Heart ...Hopefully I got the quote right.) This has always stuck with me. I think what I love about this quote is that it recognizes the wrongness of what occurred. And it doesn't justify it. The reality of the sin is allowed to sink in and sit there. And yet, in this quote, John Eldridge also makes it clear that forgiveness is a choice. It's not a feeling. It's a conscious decision one makes. And part of that decision involves releasing control over the emotions gripping us and over the circumstances and even over the offender.

Tonight I pray that the Lord will help me to forgive.

1 comment:

  1. It's something I'm sure we all struggle with. Years and years ago, in a bible study, I too realized that forgiveness was a decision, a choice we made ourselves, not a feeling. The feeling comes later, sometimes much later. You never forget, and can make decisions based on what happened (there are consequences to sin), but you choose to forgive.

    It's sometimes like "love" - you choose to love sometimes even when you don't feel like it. It's not about feelings...those can come and go. It's a decision, a choice, a commitment. That's always stuck with me.

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