Wednesday, September 27, 2006

As We Forgive

“As we forgive those who sin against us” – that is part of our daily prayers as a Christian; we call for mercy only in the same breath as we forgive others. Forgiveness can be such a struggle. Often, it is beyond me and I need help. As I endure malice from others, often malice forms inside me in reaction. Poison. Where does help come from? How can I love better and think better?

My pastor taught me to look at the Lord’s Prayer as the prayer I would pray wholeheartedly if my soul were what it should be, grown fully to the image of God in Christ. So I turn to it for help. The other petitions show me how I can forgive. That is not to say that is their purpose; but it is to say that they give me more strength and wisdom than is my own and show me more of God's mind than I yet possess.

How can I forgive? I can't do it for myself but I can do it for our Father. I does not serve my honor but the honor of God’s name. Forgiving does not establish myself as above over the other, but it does work for the coming of His kingdom, for His will on earth, not just in heaven. I have to remember that I am a sinner too. It removing the temptation to bitterness and hatred, and delivers us both from the Evil One.

And if that only quiets my self-righteousness some – because my unforgivingness is too often only self-righteousness – then I try again.

Some people would see forgiveness as wrong, as pretending sin is right. It is not that; that confuses “forgiving” and “excusing” – if it were right, it would not need forgiving. Forgiveness only applies to what is truly wrong, make no mistake. But I want to let God alone have credit as the righteous one and the holy one. I want to keep myself far from taking advantage of someone else’s failings to claim superiority over them.

Then I can really pray, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."

3 comments:

japhy said...

Indeed, if we wish to see [God's] will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we have to realize that God's not waiting for all of us to pray for it to happen, He's waiting for us to make it happen. Forgiveness is God's will, as is evident in the incarnation of the Word of God. Forgiving one another is accepting God's will as our own.

You bring up forgiving vs. excusing. Lewis wrote about that in The Weight of Glory, in the chapter titled "On Forgiveness", where we're often not asking God (or others) to forgive our sins, but to excuse them. We give reasons why we had to sin:

Forgiveness says "Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." But excusing says "I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it; you weren't really to blame." If one was not really to blame than there is nothing to forgive.

If you haven't read the book, I strongly suggest it. And if you have, well, excuse me. ;)

DugALug said...

WF,

Jaffy Wrote: Forgiveness is God's will

Here is one of those examples where God's will is evident. Forgiveness is toughest for us because it is a prime example of puting others (and God) ahead of ourselves... even at our own hurt, anguish, and/or expense.

The attitude of forgiveness must come even before the words 'please forgive me' have even been spoken. If we have prepared to forgive, and put asside ourselves, the anger and bitterness cannot take hold in our lives.

Many impatiently wait for the offender to seek forgiveness and in doing so, become bitter and resentful. If we commit in our heart to forgive, we won't need to wait for that person's request: we will move on and the power that person has over our lives has been rendered worthless.

I believe this is the real key to the turn the other cheek scriptures.

God Bless
Doug

Weekend Fisher said...

Say Doug, are you still reading comments on this thread? If so, I had a follow-up for you.

And I'm half-way being devil's advocate, always a possibility with me.

So is there any difference between the forgiveness for a person who asks for forgiveness and the one who does not? And is there any obligation to confront someone who is hard-hearted about their sin?

Just thinking ...