This concludes my previous post of a few days ago...
With great regret, I can honestly say that at times I have found myself the offended and was unwilling to respond with forgiveness right away. We need to feel vindicated. We want to be heard, but even more we want others to know the depth of our pain. Forgiveness implies that we are leaving behind the weight of what we’ve been carrying based on that offence. We want to drop it. We don’t want the bitterness and anger and sadness and strain that that unforgiving spirit brings us.
Here are a couple of related thoughts. Is your complaint you are bringing about your brother worthy of having them removed from fellowship in the local church? Some may be saying “if its Mrs So-and-So, or old Mr Kadidlehopper, then yes, yes, yes! I’ve had to put up with their foolishness for 60 years.” Don’t forget that God’s had to put up with your foolishness for 70 years, or 26 or 53, or 36 and ¾ to the day, in my case!
Secondly, is refusing to fix something worthy of having yourself removed from the local church? I heard someone this week say, “if he was more thick-skinned he wouldn’t be complaining.” I thought that was an interesting thought. But it avoids the issue. This person was being accused of something, and they came up with fault for the other person to avoid that they had offended. Obviously developing thick skin is a valuable tool. But our job as offending party is to acknowledge our offence and make things right.
Is there ever a time when someone is too petty and hard to deal with, that no matter what there will be something wrong no matter what? Likely. Perhaps you’re saying, “Yes, it’s so and so over there!” Perhaps someone is saying it about you. The exceptions do not negate the rule. The exceptions make the rule even more important. By bringing private grievances before other witnesses, it allows the pettiness to be exposed.
How many times must I forgive? Until 70 times 7! Keeping track means you are not really forgiving. I mean, Jewish tradition said three times. Peter was stretching it to say 7. Jesus was saying, “If you’re keeping count, you’re not forgiving. Not the way God has forgiven you.” Here is where we come back to humility. Its not about me anymore, its about Christ. It’s about living life like Him. To truly follow Him in this area, we must forgive.