Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Forgiveness

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.  This is hard.  It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single person great injury.  But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life -- to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son -- how can we do it?  Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say our prayers each night "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us."  We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves."  C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, "On Forgiveness"
Forgiveness is not always easy.  In fact, forgiveness can at times be among the hardest things as Christians we are called to do.  When we have been hurt deeply or repeatedly, it can be next to impossible to forgive.  How do you forgive the person who has abused you?  How do you forgive the spouse who cheated on you?  How do you forgive the person who stole from you?

In this quote, C.S. Lewis says that the key is keeping in mind the consequences if we do not forgive.  God will not forgive us if we do not forgive someone else.  And why should He?  He offers us a priceless gift.  No matter who you are, you have been forgiven much. It is true that some of us have been forgiven more than others, yet, we all have been forgiven the unpardonable; namely, we all have been forgiven for turning our back on our Creator.  Accordingly, if we refuse to forgive others we are rejecting God's mercy that has been freely given to us.

God does not "command" us to forgive because He is masochistic and because He wants us to do the impossible.  The opposite of forgiveness is bitterness and bitterness eats at your soul. The person who refuses to forgive destroys their own soul.  God wants us to forgive others because He knows it is impossible for us to lead healthy lives without forgiving.

There is no magic bullet to be able to forgive easily. However, the person who refuses to forgive has not readily accepted how much God has forgiven them.  God will always give you the strength to forgive if you willingly ask for help.

Let's be people who are quick to forgive and extend grace to those in our lives.


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