BEFORE I CAN FORGIVE
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:8-9
Before I can forgive, I must know what it is I’m forgiving. I must see another’s offense as God sees it. But one of three things will play out. 1.) I think what happened is no big deal but God disagrees. 2.) I think what happened to me is a huge deal but God says I’ve overreacted. 3.) I see what happened as God sees it and am ready to take the leap of faith called forgiveness. I take people ‘off my hook and put them on God’s hook’.
Where are you, usually, among the three options? If you’re an angry and suspicious person, you most likely overreact. You over-inflate the meaning of others’ actions or just read into them what isn’t there. If you’re a person who absorbs guilt and shame by default, whether deserved or undeserved, then you don’t see the offenses as big as God sees them. You’ll be bent to minimize them and say that, somehow, it must be your fault. Only a person who has spent time with God and with His Word can have the mind of Christ and see events as He sees them.
After relating a difficult period in my past, someone asked me. “How in the world did you get through that?” My nature caused me to answer, “It wasn’t all that bad!” and shrug my shoulders. Only as I saw their reaction to my story was I able to view the events more clearly.
Forgiving some re-fashioned, minimized offense is pretty safe but it’s not true forgiveness. This is what we usually do when called to an altar to forgive but go prematurely. Forgiving the real thing is excruciating, very messy, and takes time. It takes a season for God to reveal to us how the offense affected us. Until we know that, forgiveness isn’t complete.
Who will lead us through the minefield of anger, loss, and grief? The Holy Spirit, our Counselor. God said, “I will lead the blind in a way they do not know. In unknown paths and unchartered territory I will guide them.” Never is there more frightening ground to cover than that of forgiveness.
It’s good to look at the most painful parts of our stories, to wonder if we’ve truly forgiven the real offenses as God sees them. If we want the mind of Christ, He promises to give it, and deliver us safely to the other side.
Seal, by the power of Your Spirit, the journey of forgiveness for the one who reads this. Protect them. Give them Your wisdom and guidance. Lead them through unchartered territory. Amen