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Monday, February 8, 2010

What Do You Get When You Remember Others Sins Against You Forever?

A lot or my marital counseling concerns the lack of forgiveness. The one who did the wrong thing has lived with this lack of forgiveness for some time. He or she would like to get beyond it. The one who was hurt can't seem to make it over that hill. He or she comes back to their pain again and again. They hold it over the spouse like a weapon. It is used again and again. Eventually, they come come to me. One wants the other to get on with their lives. The other wants the penalty for the sin paid.

The one who won't forgive generally remembers each wrong which was done. It doesn't stop with the spouse. The complaints follow each friend, each co-worker, each neighbor and each acquaintance.  This person cannot let things go. Often this person cannot let things go in his or her life either. This person will either excuse all of his own transgressions or allow his inability to forgive himself manifest itself with the lack of forgiveness for others. Essentially, he holds others sins so closely to his face so that he can't see his own sins.

Many of these people were raised in homes where forgiveness was rare. Performance was paramount. Each and every flaw was to be eradicated without mercy. The only relief is pointing out the failures of others. It is a shell game of misdirection. Others won't see this individual's own sins if they are looking at others. The best action is to point at others because forgiveness is seldom tolerated.

Christian homes don't seem to vary from this process any more than others. Unfortunately, the Christian home may present being perfect as the only acceptable performance. It talks a good game of forgiveness but it lacks giving forgiveness. In fact, it may have a tacit means of payment for forgiveness. There may be an unwritten and unspoken rule in the home of a period of time or method of penance for any failures in character. This hardly presents a healthy view of God who gives forgiveness freely.

There is no love in holding onto others sins. Of course, forgiveness doesn't mean that you immediately give your trust. Letting go of their sins (forgiveness) means you don't bring them up again. You don't keep them in the forefront of your memories. You don't try to exact some payment for the failure. Sure, there may be consequences which allow them to prove their repentance but it is not intended to be punishment which will hurt the transgressor as badly as he or she has hurt others.

On one side, love is saying you are sorry. On the other, love is forgiving. Love lets others' sins go.

Otherwise, expect to live a very cold life.

1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.

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