browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

If You Will Forgive Me…

Posted by on August 22, 2012

“Pastor, how often should I forgive a brother or sister (husband, wife, mother, father, child, uncle, aunt, cousin, friend…) who sins against me? I really want to know. Does God mean for me to accept bad behaviors over and over and over, forgiving people simply because they ask me to?”

“Yes, Christian, I believe he does. Let’s look at Luke 6 for a minute…?”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary, Pastor, I’ve already read it before. Let me qualify for you what it is I’m struggling with, because I’m pretty sure that what those verses say are not really what they mean. I mean literally speaking. Translations being what they are, can we really trust them?”

“Okay, what are you struggling with, what questions do you have?”

“Well, first off, must I forgive other people who don’t specifically ask me to forgive them? I mean a lot of people, when they’re caught doing something wrong, they just walk away and never speak of it again. I don’t have to forgive that kind of attitude, right? And, what if the apology they offer me is a blanket, “I’m sorry”? Like really general, you know? What if they say they are sorry for “all the things I’ve ever done to you…”, which is really just a cop-out, must I forgive them then? When they won’t look me in the eye, when they preface the apology with things they believe I did to them to provoke their bad behavior, do I have to forgive them when that’s the case, Pastor?”

“Well, it’s always been my conviction that the Holy Spirit leads us to understand if an apology is sincere or not, but He also leads us to give grace freely.  We benefit from forgiving others even when they don’t ask to be forgiven.”

“Grace, yes, I understand that. I wouldn’t turn them into the police or anything…”

“Wait, have you seen a crime being committed and want to know what you should do about it?

“Oh, no, Pastor. That’s just a hypothetical statement. I mean, if I saw them stealing something or breaking into someone’s home or car, I’d report that. But, Pastor, I got to tell you, this forgiving-all-the-time principle in Scripture (and that you keep talking about in your sermons), it’s really, REALLY hard for me. Sometimes, it seems neigh on to impossible.”

“I understand.”

“Really? Thank you!  Because there are days when it feels like no one is sorry for the things they’ve done, except me. And I’m not whining about the disciplines of the faith, here. Seriously, I’m not. It’s just that I am expending a lot of energy forgiving these people.  Energy that could be used for better purposes.”

“Really, Christian, like what?”

“Well, like running the child care program at church, or visiting shut-ins, or cleaning the sanctuary. You know how miffed board members get when the Bibles left in the pews are askew, or they find pieces of paper or toys left behind on the floor. Instead of picking up after the little ones (the big ones, too, let’s admit that), I‘m “spending myself” combing through the Bible, trying to find reasons to forgive the damage done to me, and trying really hard to muster up enough longsuffering patience to forgive some of these knuckleheads that come to church here on any given Sunday. It’s exhausting work some days.”

“Oh, I understand, Christian. Believe me, I do, but there will always be things to do around the church. We can’t let that hamper our spiritual growth or get in the way of following God’s commands. He says right here in Luke 6 that we should forgive, that we might be forgiven, and…”

“…And we’re back to that. I know God wants me to forgive. What I’m trying to figure out is how to do it.”

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:36-38

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *