Forgiveness (Part I)

Category: Brad's Posts

Occasionally on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update they’ll have a segment called “REALLY?”  They seem to find the most absurd of the week’s news stories, and then keep asking “really?”  “Really?”

As we move into new seasons of life, or begin new chapters after periods of transition or painful events, it’s much better to “travel light” as Max Lucado would say.  And perhaps the biggest part of unloading unnecessary baggage is the ability to forgive and move on – to which I must say, “Really?”

I confess that forgiving someone is often the very last thing I’d prefer to do, mostly because of my flesh and my pride.  I can always think of (what seem to be) several very good reasons not to forgive someone:

  1. The person who wronged me has never expressed remorse – so why forgive someone who doesn’t even think they need forgiving?
  2. Sometimes people actually deny what they’ve done (i.e., the sexual abuse never happened) to try and preserve their reputation/dignity.  How can you forgive someone in total denial?
  3. They have ignored or failed to grasp the level of damage their actions have left in their wake.  Why shouldn’t a dismissal of the depth of the wound disqualify them from pardon?
  4. They have rationalized their actions, almost as if non-offensive options were considered but rejected.
  5. It’s like I’m saying what they did was no big deal.
  6. It’s like I’m letting them off the hook, and I’d much prefer to have the leverage when it serves my purposes.

These all seem to make perfect sense, until you read something like this from Frederick Buechner:

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun.  To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations to come, to savor the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”   Wishful Thinking, p.2

The Bible puts it this way:

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Really?

“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”  Really?

“Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.”