by Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Your son or daughter says some things that hurt you deeply. What started it all is important. What ended it all was the painful expression, “I never want to talk to you again!” What do you do now?
Someone in your church has had his or her feathers ruffled by you, as you have by them. Glares were exchanged, as well as words. Feelings were hurt. Everyone knew it.
What do you do now? Your choices are limited. You can allow your anger to fester and degenerated into hated. You can do nothing and hope the whole thing will blow over. Or you can set in motion the steps that lead to forgiveness and reconciliation. In mostcases, the choice is yours.
When Peter asked the Lord Jesus how often he should forgive a brother who sinned against him, Jesus gave His “seventy times seven”nswer and then told the parable of the unforgiving servant. The parable is recorded in Matthew 18:23-35. a certain king had a servant who owed him an incredible amount of money. When the servant pleaded for mercy,the king felt compassion for him and chose to forgive his debt. That same servant then hunted down a fellow servant who owed him a mere pittance and demanded payment. When his fellow servant pleaded for mercy, the ungrateful first servant hose not to forgive him and threw him into debtor’s prison.
Many factors must be taken into account in this matter of forgiveness. In don’t want to oversimplify the problem, but the bottom line is generally the same. Forgiveness is a choice—your choice!
When two people have a sharp disagreement, doing nothing can be the most devastating thing of all. Forgiving is not just being passive or shrugging off your problem. You cannot remain neutral when wrong has been done. Making things right through forgiveness is your only option.
When someone has wronged you, you cannot simply try to forget what was done. We’ve often heard that we should “forgive and forget.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it isn’t true. God has given us memories, and we can’t blot things out from them at will. Only God can say, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34).
But even though you will remember, you must choose to forgive. Forgiveness is s choice.
When someone hurts you emotionally, you can’t simply be emotional about forgiving them. We can’t forgive someone because we feel sorry for that person or because we are emotionally drained. We forgive because we choose to do so.
When Jesus was hanging on Calvary’s cross, He said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). He didn’t do because He was physically or emotionally drained. He hadn’t simply become emotional about the sin of the world. He forgave because that was why He was dying—to atone for our sins and to forgive us of our sins.
Forgiveness is an act of the will. It doesn’t depend on feelings. And frequently we must make the first move towards reconciliation, even though we may be innocent of any wrongdoing.
This was true of the Lord Jesus. God the Son had been spat upon, crowned with horns, tortured, ridiculed and crucified. Yet when men were at their worst, God was at His best. When men shouted, “CrucifyHim,” Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Forgiveness was a conscious choice.
And what about you? What about your situation with that son or daughter who has hurt you so deeply? What about that person in your church who has ruffled your feathers? Should you just forget it? Should you meet them halfway? No. Neither of these is the answer. God didn’t meet mankind halfway, and He certainly didn’t ignore our sin. He initiated our forgiveness; He began the reconciliation process.
If you really want to take care of your problem, listen for God to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. When God burdens you with the need for reconciliation, He will also motivate you to initiate that reconciliation. Ask God for grace and for courage. Humble yourself and give your son or daughter a call. Initiate reconciliation. Speak to that person after church and ask to meet with him or her. Bathe the whole process in prayer. And remember, forgiveness sis a choice. Make it your choice.
Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” When you are crushed by someone, especially a family member or a close friend, you have the choice of making a big stink or emitting the fragranceof Christ. Forgiveness is a choice.CL
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