On forgiveness 

Sitting in the mid-morning sun, soaking up rays of sunlight, my journal on my lap. Having what should have been a picture perfect daily devotional, I finally brought myself to writing these words: “Lord, I cannot forgive them.”

There is much that can be said on the relationship between unforgiveness and bitterness. But, what if you want to forgive, to be free of a burden, but you just can’t make it happen?

I don’t want to hold a grudge. I don’t want to be angry and sad anymore. 

What if forgiveness is actually a God-thing? What if, to “forgive those that trespass against us“, is only possible through an act of Grace? 

I never thought about human forgiveness this way. As something miraculous, as a gift of the Divine. It changes everything. It means that the sins of others that directly effect us, are opportunities where God invites us to witness and participate in a miracle. If only we desire to step out from under the human ideals of punishment and revenge. 

I am beyond bringing about the power of forgiveness on my own. I’ve tried and tried again– but the anger and hurt is still there. Maybe, that’s perfectly understandable. Maybe, I’m not a bad Christian; I’m just a Christian realizing the full extent of their dependency on the Grace of God. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NRSV)

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6 thoughts on “On forgiveness 

  1. “Maybe, I’m not a bad Christian; I’m just a Christian realizing the full extent of their dependency on the Grace of God”. I absolutely, positively love this and desperately need to remember this. Forgiveness is not a human trait; it is a God trait. I need to stop interfering with what He desires to do in and through me and allow Him to really have FULL access to my life! So good! Again!

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  2. You know what’s sad? It’s taken me nearly 8 months to admit my own attempts at forgiveness weren’t resulting in forgiveness… No matter how much we pray, study Scripture, and seek God’s will, we STILL can be desperately in error. I will never be above it. That’s the truth of our human existence. We need more than just the promise of a pleasant afterlife– we desperately need the friendship of God. He’s the only one that can shine light into our darkness. Thank God for His friendship and Grace!

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  3. I read somewhere that if we don’t forgive, we are setting ourselves as a higher tribunal than God. And I guess it’s easier to forgive when we really remember how messed up we are yet Christ chose to die for us even when we were still sinners, so we can extend the same grace to our brethren. 🙂

    – Iya

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    1. Well, not forgiving (or refusing to) is different than finding ourselves not being able to forgive. I think it’s an important distinction to make. When forgiveness becomes merely a decision we make, a switch we can flip, forgiveness becomes something derived of human power. I think that when we take this view, we tend to revictimize people that have been truly wronged. And at the same time, we are denying our need for Divine intervention.
      For myself, recognizing my inability to do the good I want to do necessarily binds me to Christ. St. Paul expounds on this dynamic in Romans 7. The good that we want to do cannot come about by our own power. Hence, real, soul-changing forgiveness is outside of our own reach.

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  4. However, I think you are spot on about unforgiveness being a result of raising our own judgment and sense of justice above God’s. Judgment being the key word here. Your comment brought to mind two passages on the subject:

    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” Luke 6:37 (NRSV)

    Can we escape God’s judgment and condemnation on our own merits? Or earn His forgiveness by our works? Or, in paradoxical fashion, is Jesus pointing to some greater truth here? (Romans 7 unlocks this in depth)

    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?”
    James 4:11-12 (NRSV)

    Here is outlined the dynamic of the tribunal you referenced. Like I said, you are spot-on:)

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  5. Amen. Christians are already judged with the same judgment we will receive on the Last Day. The judgement is, “You are forgiven” and “I am with you always”

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