Monday, March 19, 2012

Forgiving is understanding: Inexcusable is not the same as unforgivable

I recently ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in quite some time.  We chatted, and for a while we danced around a painful topic, but it eventually surfaced like bad news will.  This friend had a major moral failing, one of epic destruction.  The consequences were far reaching and devastating.  The failure cost this friend their family and their livelihood.

Paradoxically, I left that conversation feeling a bit guilty for not checking in along the way to see how well my old friend was doing.  Sounds like a betrayal to that friend's family?  Not really.  I said, If David could fall, and he was a man after God's own heart, who are we to think we are invincible?

Honestly, I think it was a disservice for not following up with my friend to see how they were doing, spiritually and otherwise.  I apologized.  There was no excuse for infidelity, and regardless of what our sin against others may be, or their sin against us, we have to learn to give forgiveness.  And, forgiveness includes some level of acceptance.  Not blind acceptance that puts us or others in harms way, but acceptance nonetheless.

What I really want to communicate here, as simply as possible is: Inexcusable is not the same as unforgivable..

I'd like you, and myself as well, to keep this notion in the back of our mind when we need to forgive an offense.  People are "stupid" by nature, we do things we ought not do, each and everyone of us does things we regret.  I know that it's hard to admit, but be honest.

With that as a given, that we are fallible, we need to cut others more slack.  Family will let us down.  Coworkers will stab us in the back.  Our neighbors will drive through our lawns.  So, I guess Church is the only place where we never have any problems with people... right?  Wrong.

So, everywhere we go and every relationship is exposed to this principle:  Eventually, we will get hurt the hardest by those we love the most.

The older I get, the less in life I find bothering me.  One thing that irritates me to no end though, is the amount of un-forgiveness and vengeful attitudes people can harbor.  The most dangerous sin I know of is un-forgiveness.  I won't take time to list an entire doctrinal thesis on what happens when we judge others and refuse to forgive them.   Suffice it to say, Jesus repeatedly warns His audience, if you don't forgive others, God won't forgive you.

Again, the point I'm driving home is: Inexcusable is not the same as unforgivable
Just because there is no excuse for an offense, that doesn't give us the right to withhold forgiveness.  It's not healthy for the offender, or for the offended.

Am I saying turn a blind eye and stick our heads in the sand?  No.  People have to face reality, and that can hurt.  Spouses do have a right to end a marriage after certain trusts are broken or vows are violated.  People break laws and must deal with the results.  Boundaries are healthy, but, perpetually scorning or scolding isn't.

What am I advocating?  If you've been hurt/upset/offended, or, if you are wondering what to do where you weren't the one hurt but you've kept the offender at arm's length.  Keep this in mind: For guilty people who've made "the huge mistake," having to deal with their own consequences is sometimes painful enough.  Why do we feel the need to harshly add to their pain by being punitive or vindictive when reality can do this way more effectively?

Everyone deserves a little grace, occasionally, even the person in the mirror.  As a husband and a father, I've learned this lesson... and I've surely needed other loved-ones to learn it for my sake too...

BTW: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."(Matthew 5:7 ESV)

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