In the best spirit of plagarism, I wanted to muse a little on something Susan posted recently.
It semes to me that forgiveness is key in a Christians life. Indeed, God Himself says to ‘forgive, and you will be forgiven’ (Luke 6 v37b). Why this big thing on forgiveness? Well, Susan says it very well. The fact of the matter is that failing to forgive kills you. Kills you with anger, bitterness, joylessness, anger and hate.
We’ve all felt anger and injustice – such is natural and good. It shows we are alive, that we are not an island, that we can be hurt by others. Be angry! But – don’t let the sun go down on your anger. For when we gnaw on our anger in the dark, it turns to bitterness and hate. It is possible we can make our targets’ life a misery as a result. The truth is though, we make our own life ten times worse. The end result of unforgiveness – well, it can be seen in the world around us.
Forgiveness is indeed a hard thing for us to do, bound as we often are to the strictures of justice; gracious forgiveness seems scandalously alien.
I think this is what Jesus was saying when he said “those who have been forgiven much, love much; those who have been forgiven little, love little”. I confess I puzzled over that one for a while until I understood that it is not until we understand in our heart just how much we have been forgiven that we have the power to love scandalously, and forgive scandalously.
One could in fact say that forgiveness is the only sane option in an insane world. Look on it as enlightened self-preservation if you like!
Of course, it is easier to say than do, and for certain forgiving is an iterative process, like peeling the skin of an onion. We may have to revisit again and again, as part hurts we thought were dealt with, resurface. Indeed, it is a trap to think “I have forgiven, right that’s it, dealt with, put behind me”, because it gives the accuser fertile territory to accuse you of being a hypocrite and a failure when you find it is not quite as ‘dealt with’ as you first thought.
It’s probably best to understand that forgiveness is sometimes a process, or perhaps better as an attitude, rather than something that can always be done once and dealt with. It’s also best to understand it as a hard, narrow way. It’s difficult to relinquish the claim for justice in forgiveness. It is costly.
It is also the Way of the Cross.