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Monday, April 2, 2012

Love Desires Forgiveness

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago entitled, "When Someone Will Not Forgive You." Nearly every week since then I have gotten an email from someone who is heart-broken because someone will not forgive them. They recount to me stories of spouses, children, former best friends and even pastors who hold back their forgiveness.These emails reveal an anguish of broken relationships and desires to make things right.

I'll admit that my responses were often supporting the one who had been wronged. I wanted the ones seeking forgiveness to understand why trust was so hard to give. I wanted them to realize the overwhelming grace that comes with forgiveness.

But there is another side. It is the side of love. It is here that the person who has been wronged needs to look. Love seeks to forgive the person who has done the wrong.

The Bible says in its description of love:

 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

That word translated "keeps no record" could also be translated , "put down to one's account" or "brood over." I think of it more in the latter for I find that those who refuse to forgive must continue to hold the wrong before their own eyes in order to refuse forgiveness. This is especially true if the person in a Christian for he  must know that Jesus has forgiven greater sins than what he is refusing to forgive. He, therefore, rehearses this sin. He takes the sin out as if it is a collector's item that no one else can behold, caresses it, feels the hurt all over again and gets more angry than the last time it was held to his eyes. Bitterness fuels the remembrance of the wrong. Hatred replaces the love that was once held. Emptiness fills the gaps.

Of course, holding the wrong so closely to his eyes is a coping mechanism. He doesn't want to be hurt like was hurt again so he makes sure that he never lets the person get close again. He was stabbed in the heart so he must keep this person a knife's lunge away.

Love, on the other hand, isn't self-centered. It turns its attention to the one being loved. It is love that has a mom washing the clothes of the child who has just said that he hates her because she has made him clean his room. It is love that brings home the alcoholic father. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. It does not rehearse the things which have hurt. It seeks to forgive. It is not self-seeking.

The problem of those who refuse to forgive is found in the lack of love. They will not allow the love of Christ to flow through them if they are believers. They, therefore, have no more love than the rest of the world. The rest of the world says, "To hell with others!" and they agree with their lack of love and lack of forgiveness.

I have found that I cannot walk with my Lord and refuse to forgive. I can't tell Him that I love Him while I am hating someone else. I can't walk in His light while I am trying to walk in the darkness.

The person who refuses forgiveness also refuses the Lord. He loved and told us to love like He loves.

There is no reconciliation in knowing that others are in pain. There can be no joy in knowing that the one who refuses to forgive you is also suffering because of their lack of forgiveness but you should know that their lack of forgiveness is distancing them from their Lord. It is becoming something that diminishes the love they have for others.

Refusing to forgive is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.

If you are a believer and have been wronged, please seek the love of Christ to help you forgive. It is not only best for the one who wrong you. It is best for you.


Anthony Chia said...

On this subject, I teach, "To forgive is to practise love", and I quote Prov 17:9.

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends (NIV1984); Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends (NLT2007); Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends (GWT1995).

The combination of the 3 translations give a clear enough picture - to forgive is to practise love. And so, to refuse to forgive is NOT practising love. Are we to practise love or NOT? Love is NOT just mere “I love you”, and there is nothing to show or nothing showing up. It is along the same line as faith without action is dead; or the Apostle James would say, "Show me your faith, and I will show mine, by what I do".

So, we are NOT being truthful, when we refuse to forgive our neighbours, and at the same time claiming before God that we love Him, for we love our neighbours.

It is NOT wrong to use 1 Cor 13:5, the part about "it keeps no record of wrongs", to support love desires forgiveness. But too often, people also incorrectly used it to support their insistence that when one forgives, one must forget. And so, we also commonly hear it said, "Forgive and forget". Don't bash your brains out, because you cannot forget! And please do NOT use it to test your forgiveness. Counselors should stop doing that; you are just making life even more difficult for the "poor fellow"; if he/she is hurt badly, how can he/she forget; don't ask for the impossible. "Forgive and forget" is just a cliché way of saying, "Let it go". You will remember, but if you truly have forgiven, the remembrance or recalling of the incident, should NOT still "sting" you; meaning it should NOT arouse in you, anymore, anger, resentment and bitterness. Loves desires forgiveness, and when you have forgiven, you let it go. And when you let it go, you don't keep on, the bringing up of the matter; Prov 17:9, says, it only separates.

Now, coming back to the part of tendency to support the one who is wronged, it is only natural, for we have a sense of justice. And it is also rightly said, forgiving is grace extended. Nonetheless, the right thing to do, with regard to the victim, is to give the understanding that he/she needs to forgive.

The Word of God dictates that we have to forgive, no better what. There are several reasons, and the 2 main ones are (1) as a Christian, we have, by grace, received “The forgiveness” from God. Col 13:3 – forgive one another, and forgive as the Lord forgave you. Matt 6:15 said that if we do NOT forgive, we cannot expect God to continue to forgive us, when we, next, are in need of forgiveness; (2) as a Christian, our Lord is our Master; certain things, including this “right of repayment”, are commanded of us, to defer to our Master. Ultimately, our Master decides, whether or NOT, “payment” is necessary. Vengeance is the Lord, says the Word. We have to leave it to Him, despite our sense of justice.

Cont. on next page...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from preceding page

Some people teach, we forgive only when the offender repents. That is NOT correct teaching. The correct requirement is “we forgive, regardless”. Don’t say Ps Prentis can get “upset”, I would, too; because the victim has to forgive, regardless. Yes, even if the offender refuses to admit that he was wrong or he does NOT want to apologise, the victim must forgive. How did God forgive us? By grace, meaning without us meriting it. So, if we are to forgive as God forgave, we also are to forgive, by grace. In other words; the offender is forgiven without him meriting it (So, you cannot say, “Pay up the damages, and I will forgive you”!).

People are confused, because teachers of the Word do NOT explain clearly that there 2 separate matter involved here, and it is firstly, the need to forgive, which is “you must, regardless”, and then, there is the “releasing of forgiveness”, which you are to do, according to the Word, within the framework of “we are our brother’s keeper” (Luke 17:3-5). In other words, we have to forgive the offender, regardless, in our heart; forgiveness is NOT released yet, but it is we are to, having forgiven. And, then, when there is prima facie repentance on the part of the offender, even with just his saying, “I repent”, you are to release your forgiveness to him/her. It is prima facie repentance, and it is NOT you got to be sure, that you have to investigate. So long as there is prima facie repentance, you have discharged your “brother’s keeper” role, of “by your action you have pointed out to him, his wrong; and he has noted it (or claim to have agreed).” It is always a 2 stage thing, you first forgive in your heart (and you must), and then you release your forgiveness. I will NOT expound here, Luke 17:3-5, but many people interpret this text wrongly, and said that the Word teaches that we forgive only when the offender truly repented, and that we are entitled NOT to forgive, when we are NOT satisfied that the offender has repented.

Ps Prentis’ observation at beginning of his entry, is very real, and it is so real that the Lord warned in His Word, that if the one you refused to forgive (and release forgiveness to) is tormented, and indeed it is possible that they are tormented (even if you are NOT aware) just because you have refused to release forgiveness to them (you may NOT have done anything in active retaliation), their torment is on you! God’s Word said, “Likewise, the Father God will do to you”! (Matt 18:32-35)

Please forgive, for your neighbour’s sake, and for your own sake. Some people don’t like this; but I say, “Heaven is for people who accepts God, and His ways, and wants to be like Him, in love. Funny, isn’t it, how man wants God to release forgiveness to them on prima facie repentance (think about, God forgives us on prima facie repentance), we are NOT prepared to do that!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions