Forgiveness is no favor. We do it for no one but ourselves. We simply pay too high a price when we refuse to forgive.
Can we afford to hold to self-destructiveness and why?
Someone shared that thought with me recently and I found a variation of it on the web. But it is one I've long believed (and have posted about before).
The reason "the greater sin" is in the person who does not forgive, is that failing to forgive is the only way anything bad done to us can harm us beyond the walls of the world. We forgive not to help others, but to save ourselves.
I wrote about this a while ago, and my conclusion was different than yours. I agree that forgiveness lets the victim focus on the "good" and not the "bad." But I also think that forgiveness is crucial to mending the divide between the victim and the criminal. If I withhold forgiveness, then I promote a world of separation and revenge rather than unity.
Excellent point Brianj.
brianj -- well made point.
Which brings up a question: When should/can/how we forgive?
Is it healthy to go through emotional stages of hurt or should we attend to short-circuit our emotions with an immediate (at least in our hearts) forgiveness?
Is forgiveness more 'effective' if we wait to learn the identity of the offender? If our house has been burglerized and the police are 'on it' should we forgive a faceless offender or wait to find our who it is?
What are our responsibilites towards the offender in regards to forgiveness? Do we silently forgive? Do we wait until forgiveness is sought? Do we actively seek out the offender and 'push' forgiveness on him/her?
If active forgiveness is snubbed what is the next step?
Anonymous makes a good point. I have had a very hard time forgiving my friend, whose son molested my daughter and other girls in our neighborhood for her hateful attitude towards us this last year. She has snubbed us blatantly and cruelly.
Last week in church she met my eyes in the hall and gave me a small smile. I didn't smile back, but it wasn't because I was trying to be mean, I simply didn't expect it and went on my automatic way down the hall. She was hurt--I know because she mentioned this to someone. She's done this and worse to us all year!
I wish God would strike her with lightning and not kill her, but just give her a good jolt.
Forgiveness isn't between me and the person I'm forgiving, though, it's between me and the Lord. I'm giving it over to Him and He's giving me peace and healing through the atonement.
I forgive independent of the other person's behavior, although said behavior influences how much trust or interaction occurs after that.
Forgiveness can't be shortcircuited, in my opinion, because the healing process is needed to forgive. There's no timetable, so there may be 'immediate' forgiveness in a few instances, but God isn't standing there with a stopwatch wondering why we haven't forgiven X yet.
Anne's experience fits exactly with what I'm talking about. Forgiveness doesn't mean she has to forget what happened, say what the (former) friend did was okay, it doesn't mean she *has* to be anything beyond civil to this woman--it means Anne will have given it to God and will have received peace of mind in return. Such a sharp betrayal, it probably will take a while and that's okay.
These comments are a lot more meaningful and better than my original post.
Ahh! but it's your post that got the conversation going. One cannot be without the other.
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