Tuesday, December 17, 2013

JESUS AND FORGIVENESS

The most difficult thing in all the world for Christians to do is forgive. For all the talk in the Church about forgiveness, restitution, and healing, very little of it is truly demonstrated. We all like to think of ourselves as peacemakers, lifters up of the fallen, always forgiving and forgetting. But even the most deeply spiritual are guilty of wounding brothers and sisters by not showing a spirit of forgiveness.

Even the best Christians find it hard to forgive those who injure their pride. Let two good Christian friends have a “falling out” and you could have a lifetime grudge going. They seldom admit it, because they cover their unforgiving spirits with a facade of courtesy calls, nice words, and an invitation to “Come and see us sometime.” But it is never the same. We really do not hate that other party; we just seem to be saying, “I've got nothing against him, but just keep him out of my hair. Let him go his way, and I’ll go mine.” We simply ignore people we can’t forgive.

The most difficult person to forgive is someone who is ungrateful. You loved someone without being loved. You sacrificed to help a friend in need, only to be criticized or taken for granted. The person you went out of your way to help shows nothing but ingratitude and selfishness in return. Your good intentions are misinterpreted and your good deeds are misconstrued as being selfishly motivated. Do we ever forgive that ungrateful person? Hardly ever. We smile at them, wave a greeting from a distance, but we determine to “never do anything for them again.”

Then we get to those who deceive us. We find it nearly impossible to forgive such a person. We are most anxious to be forgiven our own lies and failures, but nothing infuriates us more than to discover someone has lied to us.

And what about the person who tells us we are wrong? Convinced we have good reasons for everything we do, we find it extremely difficult to forgive the person who suggests we have made a mistake. Rather than take an honest look at what that person is saying to us, we justify our actions.

In His teaching on prayer Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12).