“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” – Isaiah 55:6-7
Remember the book, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum? The book is predicated on the idea that all I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten; how to live, what to do and how to be. His premise is that wisdom is not found in an ivy league university, but there in the sandpile at school. It was there that we learned to share everything, play fair, not hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, don’t take things that are not yours, and say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Now forgiveness is not something we learn early on. It is not intuitive and is not natural. While I may not have learned much about the subject when I was five, I have learned a whole lot about the subject since then. I certainly have not mastered it, but I do know a whole lot more than I did back in my early school years.
For example, I have learned that forgiveness is not always fair. There can be a pretty big dose of inequality in forgiveness. I have learned that forgiveness is not easy. In fact it is hard. Another thing I have learned is that forgiveness has little to do with how deserving the person is or whether they have asked to be forgiven. God expects us to forgive even the unforgivable. C.S Lewis summarizes this idea when he said, “ To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” And that means forgiving somebody who has wronged you even if they are not sorry.
Another thing I have learned is forgiveness is an act of faith: trusting God to work in every situation, knowing God has greater plans and knowing God will handle any justice, mercy, or grace that needs to take place. Still another thing I have learned is that forgiveness is a choice; a choice I make. And I have learned that forgiveness is not about “letting go” pretending we can “just get over it” without addressing the heart. Moving on without addressing the heart accomplishes little.
There is one last thing I have learned. We know we should forgive, not only from the Bible, but also because of our relationship with God. Because He forgives us, we should strive to forgive others in the same way.
Tomorrow: Why Should I Forgive?
- What is your initial reaction to the concept of forgiveness? Do you react in denial, anger, self-righteousness, or judgment?
- What have you learned about forgiveness in your life? Are you seeking relief or release?
- What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?
- Read Luke 5:17-26, the healing of the paralytic. What does this passage imply about the relationship between forgiveness and healing?