Thursday, 22 April 2010
Lessons of Late
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness. I’ve faced a couple of situations, of late, that’ve required me to forgive, to show mercy. And I think it’s pretty easy to say the words “I forgive you”; those words are thrown around these days. But forgiveness is difficult…and it’s been proving difficult for me. Yes me, the one who preached about mercy just the other day. The double standards we have, as mortals are amazing aren’t they? But what can I say? I’m imperfect.
I’m pretty darn sure that it’s Tyler Perry that has popularized the idea that forgiveness is for you :-) But lately I’ve been wondering if this is really true? Because to me, this sounds like a concept that we have created because it is more comfortable than the idea of being merciful because It is the Christian thing to do?
Don’t get me wrong…I am not saying that to think forgiveness is for the one that has been wronged is an un-biblical concept. Not at all! Even God himself says that he forgives us for his sake (Isaiah 43:25). And besides we all know that unforgiveness is not conducive to our well being and health. But what I’ve doubted lately…is whether it is right to make this idea (that forgiveness if for you, the victim) our primary reason to forgive. Because here lies my dilemma:
Every time I wrestle with feelings of resentment and anger…I never hear a voice telling me to forgive because otherwise I will be eaten up by bitterness…the only thing that resounds in my spirit is a reminder of how much mercy has been shown unto me. And it this resounding voice that fits perfectly with what the Word teaches on forgiveness. In a letter to the Colossian Christians, Paul tells them to forgive “even as Christ forgave you.”
And then there’s this one guy from long ago; I’m sure you know of him cos the dude is pretty famous but to cut a long story short he was about to be executed for crimes he had not committed. He was innocent and righteous…as innocent as a lamb. And I am convicted by those famous words he speaks:
Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
“Forgive them father”- he clearly knew that they had done wrong, there was no trying to hide this fact in order to look super spiritual. Nor was he going to brush it off pretentiously as we do sometimes when we say, “Oh, it was nothing.” He was straight up, kept it one hundred…they had done him wrong. Period.
And yet still…even with this knowledge, he is merciful. But what does it mean, to be merciful? I mean…biblically merciful? And this is where I’m struggling. Because my English dictionary tells me that mercy is showing sympathy, compassion, pity, forbearance. But Jesus’ words create a whole other dimension…
“For they know not what they do”- I’ve really been thinking about this. And maybe I’m wrong…but it would seem to me that Jesus is actually putting himself in the shoes of his wrongdoers. He is seeing through their eyes; trying to discern what they are feeling without any bias; trying to think how they are thinking. Because, otherwise, there is no other way he would have arrived to the conclusion that they “know not what they do.” And this reminds me of God and Jonah. Jonah was so angry with God for being merciful to the ninevites (great enemies of Israel) and he actually reproves God for being compassionate but God says to him: Jonah…these people do not know their right hand from their left. The one who is completely spotless and perfect speaks those words…he puts himself in the shoes of those that have wronged him. Think about it!
I don’t know about you…but there’s something that tells me this forgiveness thing…is so much bigger than the whole forgiveness is for you concept. But hey I’m not trying to sound like I know everything…so please feel free to discuss in the comments section below, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this! I know maybe sometimes I can come across as a know-it-all but most of my “knowledge” is just guesswork (whether accurate or otherwise). This one is actually a penny for your thoughts kind of post. So go ahead…tell me what you think! Please!!