May I Forgive Next Year When I’m Ready?

Forgive someone who cut in line in front of me. No problem. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.  Forgive someone who insulted me by his/her comment. No problem. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Forgive someone who betrayed and cheated me. Uhm Lord, why is it that sometimes I feel like the force of a pregnant Mount Pinatubo is at its threshold ready to erupt from my chest?

I was already good, not being angry since Christmas, I was forgiving. But after nineteen days, at a certain stimulus, I was angry and unforgiving again.  I tread precarious waters each time I decide to cherish unforgiveness in my heart. My mind knows it. I can go to the verses which point to it. But on a certain recall, why did Bill Bixby turn into Lou Ferrigno in me? Not pretty. (I refer not to outside pretty but to heart pretty which is what matters to the Lord (1 Sam 16:7))

I realize I can not forgive on my own strength. I’ll need as much power as that which raised Jesus from the dead. Wait a minute, Eph 1: 19-20a says that God does give this incomparably great power for us who believe, that power is like the mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead! Thank God! There is hope for you and me to be released from the bondage and captivity of unforgiveness!

What can we learn from Scripture about forgiveness? Jesus suffered and died for the forgiveness of  our sins  (Matt 26:28).  Yet when we do not forgive, we forfeit that forgiveness.  Matt 6: 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Mark 11:25 says : And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ”. Luke 6:37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” 

Between mercy (not getting the deserved punishment) and justice (getting the deserved punishment), what would you prefer for the sins you commit? If you said “mercy” I’m totally with you.  For others’ offenses against you, what would you prefer for them? If you said “justice”, I suspect we are kinswomen.  Is it human nature to have stricter standards for others than ourselves, leniency and pardon for the self and perfect justice for offenders?  Is this why Jesus gave us the speck-plank principle?   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye (Matt 7:2-4). But we will be judged by the measure we use. Therefore, we need to pray for that measure. If we want mercy for ourselves, we need to use mercy as our filter with which to view others.

Rev 21:8 tells us that a lie or murder are equal qualifiers for the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  In Jerry Bridges’s book, Respectable Sins, he enumerates some of the sins which we think are less serious but they are sins nonetheless which grieve the Holy Spirit and make us fall short of God’s standards for holiness (Rom 3:23) : anxiety, frustration, ungodliness, selfishness, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, lack of self-control, irritability and impatience, anger, judgmentalism, envy and jealousy, sins of the tongue, worldliness. Now if Jerry puts it that way, it helps remind me (and you) that we have our own hearts to be accountable for. God will deal with the other person. But he will also deal with us. Speaking for myself, I definitely need a lot of forgiveness for withholding forgiveness. In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18: 21-ff), Jesus teaches that if we refuse to forgive others despite having been forgiven of our own sins, we will have the parallel of being put back to jail, tortured until we could pay back all we owe (the amount of which would be impossible for a servant to pay). In that sense, unforgiveness is indeed like being tortured and jailed indefinitely.

Ruth Graham once said that unforgiveness is like drinking a poison, thinking the other person will die. Unforgiveness, along with other sinful attitudes, serve as footholds for the enemy, giving him a right of way into our hearts. Physiologically, emotional stress also takes its toll on health, releasing free radicals thought to play a part in the ageing process, in some autoimmune diseases, and in the development of cancer, none of which we like. Choosing unforgiveness is like giving priority to the hurt, the offender, the enemy rather than Jesus who is The way, The truth, and The life.
Forgiveness on the other hand gives release/freedom for the one forgiving.  When the offender asks forgiveness from God, do you think God will forgive him? Of course, God would and the offender is released while you and I are still in knots if we were in bondage to unforgiveness.
When we forgive, the offending person is no longer granted the power to inflict anymore pain because the whole file gets turned over to the almighty higher-up, God.   May God remind and enable us, by the power of the Holy Spirit,  to always choose forgiveness—the choice that leads to life.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Natalie Ng says:

    As humans we are made to feel unforgiveness and cling on to it especially when there is severe injustice or when we are hurt by those we really care for. Even God at times in his anger says He will never forgive (somewhere in the fasting passages). It’s truly only when we fully trust and know that God is in charge of our situation and the justice of it that we can have peace and yes…forgive. May God be at work in you always.

    (My sister told me about your blog)

    1. dear natalie, thanks for your message. it is a reassuring comfort that the unforgiveness is human and natural on this side of heaven. thank you for the reminder that trusting in God’s being in charge is a crucial step towards forgiveness. i appreciate your prayer and i say amen.

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