A look at the difficult practice of forgiveness

 

My wife and I are about to celebrate our 11 month anniversary, and it’s been the sweetest 11 months of my life. I won’t lie, they have also been some of the hardest. In fact, loving Emily has invited some of the greatest difficulties, because in loving her, I am dying to my self: I am little by little counting myself as secondary to serving, caring for, and loving my wife!
Do I seem like a good, sweet loving husband? Good, moving on. All that to say, my wife and I are not all that experienced in marriage warfare and the peace-making that necessarily should ensue. But recently in some arguments that we’ve had recently I’ve come to some very helpful conclusions. There are daily blogs, radio shows, I subscribe to that have proved extremely helpful in my walk with Christ, and I feel I must share my findings and observations with you, because I think the economony of arguments, polemics, and defenses, all with the emotional harborings that go with such battles, is a very common economony in everyones relationships.

Forgiveness is…

1) Unjust! Yes, thats right, you are being completely just when you withold forgiveness against someones genuine offense. Isn’t that how the courts work. You offend the law, you commit a crime, you PAY! There is a necessary transaction. The offender must pay for what he has done, justice says, there must be punishment. So in social circles, an offense is not easily overlooked. Especially when it is over an emotional matter. And to count someones offense as nothing, is unjust. It is also the VERY thing God does when he covers our sin, with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Before Jesus died, God compromised His Glory in forgiving us, those who were repentent of their wrong-doings (so basically all those in the Old Testament of the Bible). He loved us so much, he with-held his wrath, his justice. Consider this; a general of an army sees a woman taking a shower (a woman who he knows is married) and takes her and has sex with her. To cover up for himself he sends the husband of the woman to the front lines to be killed, and killed he is. Now picture a short time later, a chaplain comes to the general and tells him he has sinned before God, and the general who lives a life of faith, realizes what he has done, and repents. Because God loves him, He compromises His glory to forgive that man. From the woman’s father’s point of view, that is a travesty!! He may cry out, “What God? You’re just going to forgive him? Just like that? That’s not justice! He raped MY daughter!” That’s right, true forgiveness is not just! (so that you know there is not a puzzle piece missing, God’s glory is reconciled when he sent his son Jesus to die in the place of everyone whom he forgave and loved…Jesus Christ received the punishment that was due to the offenders).

Forgiveness may just be the deepest way in which we exhude God’s love for us, to each other. To say “My dear wife, I count all you just said as nothing, I forgive you” is to echo God’s sentiment towards us when he says, “My dear children, I count it as nothing what you just did, because the punishment you deserve was put on my Son.” What love!

2) Difficult! Why is it so difficult!? Partially because we are hard-wired with a sense of justice, as mentioned before. When we are offended we act as if we are someone high and mighty. “My dear wife, you have just offended the mighty Luke…you just don’t know who you are messing with.” We may have such a high ego of ourselves that we are not so quickly ready to forgive such offensive accounts against a person so noble. In marriage, I am called to die to myself, and count my desires secondary to Emily’s. What does this look like? It may sound like this in your head, “Gosh, I’m sooo offended! I can’t believe what just came out of his mouth.” We are so floored at the audacity of such a move, that we get stuck in the awe of it all. And true, it may hurt a lot, and the time between an offense delivered and forgiveness dealt, may take a while, because a hurt can go VERY deep. But if that person is truly sorry, we are to free them of their guilt and quickly forgive them.

There is a side of forgiveness that is dark and manipulative. When we withhold forgiveness from someone after they’ve been sorry, you are treading in dangerous waters.

Think of it in terms of debt and a covering. When one offends you, they are in your debt. They owe you something. To forgive is to cover it, and count the debt as nothing. But when you hold the debt tight, that’s when things get ugly. You passive aggressive people, I think you specailize in this.

When you keep an offender in debt to you, you…

1) Are being extremely manipulative! You are being just, but are throwing the cares of the relationship away. The offender has realized his wrong, and wants reconciliation, but you don’t….or maybe you do, you just want him to suffer for a bit, like you did. You are not a friend, you are not looking out for their good, you’re not looking to build them up….you’re crapping on their well-intended apology. This will lead you no where fast!

2) Are not showing love! It is ok for one to demand compensation for the offense (and it is the just thing to do), and then after which you’ll consider things even. But it is love that says, “No, no need, I forgive you and lets put it past us and move on.” For the sake of a couple, and the love that can be had, we forgive.

 

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