29 June 2014 by Rev Dr Steven Kau-
Why don’t people just forgive? That’s a very good question. If forgiveness is easier and more beneficial, why is it not more popular? The sad reality is that there is a short-term, relationally destructive power in refusing to forgive. Holding on to the other’s wrong gives us the upper hand in our relationships. We keep a record of wrongs because we are not motivated by what honors God and what is best for others, but we are motivated by what’s expedient for ourselves.
Here are some of the dark benefits of unforgiveness:
1. Debt is Power: There is power in having something to hold over another’s head. There’s power is using a person’s weakness and failure against him or her. In moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against the person, as our relationship trump card.
2. Debt is Identity: Holding on to another person’s sin, weakness, and failure make us feel superior to them. It allows us to believe that we are more righteous and mature than they are. We fall into the pattern of getting our sense of self not by the comfort and the call of the Gospel but by comparing ourselves to another. This pattern plays into the self-righteousness, which is the struggle of every sinner.
3. Debt is Entitlement: Because of all the other person’s wrong against us, he or she owes us. Carrying these wrongs makes us feel deserving and therefore comfortable with being self-focused and demanding. Our mind may say, “After all I have had to endure in this relationship with you, don’t I deserve…”
4. Debt is Weaponry: The sins and failures that other’s done against us, that we still carry around with us, are like a loaded gun; it’s very tempting to pull them out and use them when we are angry. When someone hurt us in some way, it’s very tempting to hurt them back by throwing it in their face just to show how evil and immature they are.
5. Debt puts us in God’s Position: It’s the one place that we must never be but it’s also a position that we have all put ourselves in. We are not the judge of others. We are not the one who should dispense consequences for other’s sin. It’s not our job to make sure they feel the appropriate amount of guilt for what they have done. But it’s very tempting to ascend to God’s throne and to make ourselves judge.
This is nasty stuff. It’s a relational lifestyle driven by ugly selfishness. It’s motivated by what we want, what we think we need, and by what we feel. It’s nothing to do with a desire to please God with the way we live with one another and it surely has nothing to do with what it means to love others in the midst of their struggle to live God’s way in this broken world.
It’s also scarily blind. We are so focused on the failures of others that we are blind to ourselves. We forget how often we fail or how much our sins mar everything we do and how desperately we need the grace that we are given daily but unwilling to offer to others. This way of living turns the people in our lives into our adversaries and turns the locations where we live into a war zone.
Yet, we have all been seduced by the power of unforgiveness. We have all used the sins and failures of another against him or her. We have all acted as judges. We have all thought we were more righteous than the people around us. We have all used the power of guilt to get what we want, when we want it and in so doing have not only done serious damage to the fine china of our relationship but have demonstrated how much we need forgiveness.
It seems almost too obvious to say, but forgiveness is a much better way. The grace of our salvation is the ultimate argument for this truth. Forgiveness is the only way to live in an intimate, long-term relationship with another sinner. Forgiveness is the only way to negotiate through the weakness and failure that will daily mark your relationships. It’s the only way to deal with hurts and disappointments. Forgiveness is the only way to not be kidnapped by the past. It’s the only way to give your relationships the blessing of fresh starts and new beginnings. Grace, forgiving grace, really is a much, much better way, that you and the one forgiven can walk into the sunshine of God’s tomorrow forgiven and free.
So isn’t it wonderful to know that you have not only been called to forgive but you have also been graced with everything you need to answer this call?
| Share the Good News |