The idea of forgiveness seems noble, lofty, and beautiful until we actually have to go about the hard work of forgiving someone who’s deeply wounded or offended us.
Forgiving someone who has done you wrong is easy in theory, but the reality of it can be harsh and seemingly impossible. It’s easy to build a case that in your case forgiveness simply isn’t an option. In fact, in your case the offender should be distanced, punished, shunned, or all-out rejected. This seems right…it feels right. Yet Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Unforgiveness can lead to the death of a friendship, the death of a marriage, the death of important familial relationships, and ultimately the death of your intimate, life-giving relationship with God (Matthew 6:15).
I used to think that forgiveness was minimizing the offense. Or offering a squishy blanket of grace that went something like this, “Oh I’m sure Silvia didn’t mean to tell those lies about me…I’m sure she was just having a bad day, and maybe her bursitis was acting up, and perhaps she got some bad news…because I’m sure she would never mean to disparage me in that way, because Silvia is a good person and she isn’t like that.”
Oh really? You know for a fact that Silvia “isn’t like that”? Because the truth of the matter is that Silvia acted badly, so in this case Silvia “is like that”. It takes courage to look the offense in the face and be like, Silvia gossiped about me. Silvia tried to ruin my reputation. Silvia lied. And in the face of this injustice and offense I choose to completely forgive Silvia. I choose to let it go—I’ll let God be my defender.
When it comes to forgiveness it does help to recall that I’m imperfect and that I’m prone to say and do things I shouldn’t at times. But this isn’t the reason I’ll choose to forgive. I’ll choose to forgive because God’s word says to do it, because it’s the only way that I’ll move forward in my relationship with God and be at peace, and because it’s the way of love. And doesn’t it always come down to love? Love is the reason we’re here. To love God and to love people, and to extend grace to each other even when we don’t deserve it….especially when we don’t deserve it.
About Paula Friedrichsen
The hallmark of Paula’s ministry is her ability to communicate with unassuming authenticity and transparency. By using Scripture, personal stories, and laughter, she presents Biblical insights and principles to her listeners.
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