Forgiveness. I have been thinking about forgiveness of late. We are told throughout the Bible that we are to forgive.
In The Lord’s Prayer we pray that God will forgive us as we forgive others. Really? Do we really want to be forgiven as we forgive? Do we really want God to treat us as we treat each other? I don’t think so. I mean what would we have to look forward to if we got what we give? C’mon, be honest, what would you really have coming if God answered that prayer for you?
In my last post I talked a little about some false motives having been ascribed to me. I was hurt by it. I don’t know why, I don’t even know the person who did it, but hurt I was. In the pain I felt some anger, it’s amazing how we tend to turn our pain into anger when maybe we should just feel the pain and maybe express the hurt rather than fly off into some rage or another. Like I said I was hurt and the pain was starting to come out as anger.I kept thinking of that passage where Jesus tells the crowd, if you do not forgive others, your Father in Heaven will NOT forgive you. This person questioning my motives and projecting evil into them was obviously NOT forgiving ME.
I was going to enter the conversation as say as much when I saw that someone else had done exactly that. When I read that comment telling this person that they were removing forgiveness from themselves by not being forgiving I immediately saw the error in making such a statement, a statement I was just about to make, a statement that my mind had been screaming out for what seemed an eternity.
The error in telling someone who we perceive has been less than forgiving is that it is a demonstration of unforgiveness itself. I was so convicted, so remorseful for having even thought that, for having directed condemnation against another if only in thought. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes clear that our thoughts are every bit as damning to us as our overt actions. My thought, in the disguise of a righteous rebuke, was nothing more than a condemnation. The person who commented, kind of in my defense (but probably not) was condemning whether or not they knew it. I cannot condone any such action, especially on my behalf.
If I am being attacked, if someone is displaying unforgiveness towards me. Please do not come to my aid in the form of reminding the other that God will not forgive them if they do not forgive. Please do not do this. And I entreat you to not do this for yourselves either. I do not think that this is what Jesus intended when He made the statement.
So, as I was thinking about this statement from Jesus about not being forgiven if we do not forgive I began to wonder just what does it mean. So I thought and prayed and thought and recalled my experiences when I withheld forgiveness. What I think Jesus is doing is warning us that our unforgiveness puts us in a Hell right here and now. A Hell from which it is difficult for us to receive forgiveness. I know that the times I have withheld I suffered. I became bitter, angry, hurt. I moved into a Hell right here in my own existence, a Hell where the forgiveness I have received could not retrieve or rescue me. I was only able to leave that Hell when I could forgive that which I had not forgiven. Once I forgave I could claim the forgiveness offered me, because I really don’t think God withdrew forgiveness from me, I just set it aside. And God let me enter my Hell until I forgave, I received the measure I gave. Was able to receive the forgiveness I offered.