A bit funny, the other day I encountered a couple of articles on forgiveness that just pushed all my buttons, that annoyed me so much I was quite prepared to get up on a bucket and start preaching like the prophets of old. Wrong headed, that’s what they were, devoid of love, all wrong hearted, victim blaming, unkind, legalistic. I wrote a blog post full of words, “thou shall not weaponize forgiveness in such a manner!”
But then……I don’t want to be negative all the time, I don’t want to focus on all the things we in faith can make a real mess of, and how hurtful that can be to other people.
So I trashed the whole post and decided to just let it go. God with His perfect timing, promptly called my attention to this breath of fresh air, just a post that made my heart sing, that caused me to go, Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. This is what I want to see more of in the world. This is grace, this is healing.
I loved the whole thing. Do that. Show compassion for your brothers and sisters.
So, I know a thing or two about forgiveness, about hurt and injustice, unfairness, about the process of forgiving the unforgiveable. I know what it is like to be in that process, still “bitter, but better, ” and than some other atrocity comes your way.
I know what it is like when bitter comes your way so fast it is much like just trying to shovel snow in a snowstorm like, Lord this stuff is coming down on my head way faster than I can even clean it up.
I also know what it feels like when you are in the process of a robbery, literally standing in the moment of injustice and victimization, and some helpful Christian comes along with a lecture on forgiveness, one that is devoid of love, devoid of justice, and refuses to even name the evil standing right at eye level with them.
A bit funny, but IB just wants to just snatch that robber’s gun and shoot the helpful Christian. I’d rather be robbed by a bad guy than have to listen to your cheerful, pompous, privileged platitudes.
Oh yeah, still just a wee bit bitter about such things! But it’s true. Sometimes whatever offense you’ve endured isn’t nearly as bad as all the “helpful” advice, advice that rather than lighting the path before you, has actually just shoved you down the embankment and into the sticker bushes.
Forgiveness is really central to our faith. The more you can cultivate in your own heart, the happier you’ll be, and in the process you’ll grow closer to Jesus Christ. His voice and His heart for you will become known to you.
One of my favorite passages is Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
Her sins. Hers. The more forgiveness she herself receives from her Heavenly Father, the more she will have to extend, and the easier it will become for her to forgive others. Sometimes we try to do it all backwards, as if we have to forgive others in order to earn our own forgiveness. It doesn’t work that way, you can’t earn grace, but you can receive His rich abundance yourself, and than share what you have been given.
To swallow bitterness, to try to be “spiritually correct,” as the article described, is a bit like sealing up an infected wound or wrapping a piece of fruit in a paper towel and just stuffing it beneath the sofa cushions. At the very least, you’ll get a bad stomach ache. Don’t try to swallow bitterness, drag that stuff into the Son-light and let Him heal it.