How’s the matter of forgiveness going for you? You know, forgiveness between you and God, you and others, and you and yourself?
A lady was telling me recently about the persistent abuse—sexual and physical—that her dad meted out to her. She desperately wants to forgive, but her dad is dead. And besides, there remains the matter of his gross misconduct.
Last week, a veteran now in his nineties spoke of his nightmares. He witnessed the atrocities of the Japanese against his buddies who were captured or who surrendered. He struggles daily to forgive.
Ten days ago I met with a woman whose professional life is in jeopardy because the CEO of her company is incompetent. In his day of crisis, he has unleashed a series of scathing, unjustified attacks upon her. She is his scapegoat. In all likelihood, she will not only lose her job, but she will have to relocate.
I promised to call my wife when my plane arrived in Miami. My flight was delayed. My connecting gate was a long way away. I was running. In short: I forgot. Dianne worried. I need forgiveness. My wife needs to forgive.
Put yourself in God’s shoes for a moment. From His vantage point, humanity is a gigantic offense against His one, solitary wish: to be recognized and honored as God. Long ago, in anger He determined to start all over. He smote all but a select few with a flood that made today’s floods look like puddles! Afterward, He vowed never to use water again, but determined to forgive—for His own sake.
Forgiveness: Some need it, some need to give it. Every one of us is on one side or the other of the equation…frequently, if not perpetually. And apparently this is true of God as well.
In His book, Father counsels that we are to forgive one another just as He has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32). I think this means two things: First, the unabridged version of this verse indicates that it was “in Christ” that God forgave us. In other words, God determined that He wanted to forgive us and then made a provision—Jesus Christ—for His desire to be realized.
Second, after a long recounting of myriad offenses against Him, Isaiah records that when God considered this extensive list of grievances He determined to forgive for His own sake (43:25). Evidently, God concluded that holding on to the repentance due Him from His offenders was counterproductive to His wellbeing. And with that realization, He determined to forgive for His own sake. It had nothing to do with us—His offenders—and everything to do with His own health.
Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, not necessarily for the ones who offend us. Our need to forgive need not be held hostage waiting for our offender to come to his senses, repent in dust and ashes, and humbly ask for our forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not bound by an abusive dad who is dead, haunting memories shackled by time, an inept leader, or a husband’s forgetfulness. It simply awaits our determination to forgive for our own sake…in the same manner our Heavenly Father managed the offenses against Him and forgave for His own good.
Bluntly: Forgiveness is not contingent.
And just as Father made provision for His forgiveness through the profound work of Christ, we follow suit by the same means—Christ through us—and make a way for our forgiveness to be realized. In my case, I apologized and Dianne humbly accepted. For my veteran friend so wounded upon the sands of the South Pacific war, he selected the discipline of writing to forge his forgiveness. For the abused woman, she sought my counsel and ultimately forgave her dead dad in absentia. Multiple provisions, but each forgave.
Why? Because it was best for them!
Apart from love, forgiveness is one of the few things our Heavenly Father speaks about with such personal transparency. Forgiveness is important!
Forgiveness is hard. Mighty hard. But it beats the alternative, i.e. resentment, bitterness, shame, and anguish.
Father knows best. Out of His own experience He makes a spiritual way for us to do as He has done and forgive our offenders.
Friend, if these thoughts have encouraged you, please feel free to pass along a link to this blog with your endorsement. Together, we can win the day!