I’ve been doing a lot more writing lately…a whole lot more of this blogging and journaling or whatever you want to call it. I used to do a lot of it in the past, but sort of got away from it, kind of like I’ve gotten away from my music for awhile now too. They’re both good outlets…therapy in ways.
Anyway, here’s another of the notes I recently posted on Facebook that I wanted to share…just some thoughts about forgiveness that I thought you might relate to along with me.
More thoughts on forgiveness
Really letting something go can be so difficult. Really forgiving someone and not marking it down in some mental log of ‘wrongs’ that were done…how many of us really do that?
I was just reading about forgiveness in the Bible, and came across this passage once again.
New International Version (NIV)
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I’ve read that passage numerous times. But I never really thought about it before so much in terms of when I’m hurting about something that was done to me. I’ve thought of it in terms of not judging others for their sins, in general. There are other passages I took as meaning that I needed to forgive wrongs done to me if I want to be forgiven though. So now I see this one the same as those.
But it’s really, really difficult to do! What if someone is not merciful to you? What if someone never even admits they did anything wrong, much less asks you to forgive them, or apologizes? What if instead, they paint you as something that is unfair? What if they do have that log, where you may not have realized it, but they were all along, keeping a record of things you didn’t even know?
The answer to those questions is that it doesn’t matter. It is not up to me to ‘punish’ someone else for anything…whatever it is. And maybe I don’t deserve a wrong that’s done to me…maybe I genuinely don’t deserve it. But that doesn’t matter either, because chances are, somewhere along the way I was in, or will be in that place of needing mercy myself.
Really forgiving and letting go of hurts against us is very difficult. There are always people around who say if you try, that you’re being too hard on yourself…that the person deserves your wrath…they don’t deserve your forgiveness. Whatever. Why do they not deserve mercy and forgiveness as much as I want it, or deserve it? Because they haven’t suffered for their sins enough yet? How would I know that anyway? Who am I to judge something like that? Is it because they never did apologize, or admit fault? Again, that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Forgiveness, in some ways, is more for oneself than it is for the other person. It’s only for the other person if they do ask for it…if they do feel remorse. But either way, holding on to wrongs done to us is like poison. It makes us sick…not just physically sick, though that can happen. But it also makes us sick in our souls in a way, to hold onto ill feelings…however justifiable they may seem to be…toward someone else.
If I know in my heart that I am not perfect, which I do, and if I know in my heart that I want mercy and forgiveness for the wrongs I’ve done, then I had better be willing to offer it to anyone and everyone else, whatever the circumstances. I have to set my own selfish thoughts of hurt and anger aside and truly just let it go and love that person anyway. That is not necessarily a one time thing…I know that. But it is a one time thing in the sense that if I, once and for all, make up my mind that I have to do it, then it’s done…over…finished. I may start to pick it up again, and then I have to just remember I don’t own that anymore, and drop it.
Here’s another passage that I always read differently through the years.
New International Version (NIV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
I always took that part about heaping burning coals on the person’s head as being some kind of punishment for them inflicted by our kindness. But in a sermon at my church some time ago, it was explained differently. I can’t relate it exactly the way it was in the sermon. I’m really bad at doing that. But basically, it has to do with people having enough hot coals to keep their fire burning. When they didn’t, neighbors would give them some from their hearth to help them. They were carried on top of the heads. So to heap burning coals on a person’s head was to do something kind for them, in the context that it was meant. That shed a much different light on that passage, didn’t it? Not at all like some ‘revenge’ sort of thing that I thought it meant for years.
I am so very far from where I want to be in so many ways in my walk of faith. Sometimes I have thought I was so strong and really at some higher level, finally. Ha ha! I have a great deal to learn. I have a lot of myself to set aside in favor of truly doing the right thing. I’ll leave you with Philippians 3, which sums it all up, really.
No Confidence in the Flesh
1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Love and blessings,