I was listening to a sermon this morning about forgiveness. The pastor was trying to connect our lack of forgiveness to every ‘act’ of evil from every person who has ever done evil to us to the torment we experience in this life. It really made me think.
I do still have people in my life with whom I am angry. They have done me great harm. In fact, they are still doing me great harm. Some are from my long ago past. My unforgiveness of them does continue to cause torment within me. I have no doubt that this is the same as most of us. It is part of the human condition- this lack of forgiveness. God need not reach down and punish us. WE punish ourselves just fine, don’t we? And the people who hurt us? Do they hurt as we do? I really don’t know. Is their evil so great that they can go forward in their lives without even thinking about us and what they did? Sometimes I think they can! And that is part of the torment! They they can injure me and then, not think of it at all! So, isn’t my unforgiveness only hurting me again? Jesus is the wisest ‘Person’ ever to live among us. Everything he said is true.
He said, “Heaven is in your midst.” But the opposite must also be true. Hell is also in our midst. If you don’t choose to live in the heaven that is in our midst, then aren’t you choosing to live in the hell version that is in our midst? Logically, that would stand to reason. By not forgiving those who harmed you, you choose to live in the hell in our midst while heaven is right in front of you, beckoning! Why are we so unwise??
Because we are sinners of the first degree. Because we won’t listen to good advice! And sometimes, we are just ignorant. We don’t read God’s Word. Remember Jesus saying, “You must forgive a person 70 x 7 times?” Clearly, it will take more than one time of forgiveness for a person in your life! Why did I not ‘get’ that before?
I think it is so much easier to forgive one-time injuries by those who are not close to you. Even if they are grievous in nature. It’s done and over with. Easy to forgive. You know it will never happen again.
What is much more difficult to forgive is when someone is intimately in your life such as a family member, a church member or even a political figure. That person has a continual impact on your life. You can’t just flee from that person and be done with them. Not really. The commitment to forgive is an ongoing one, which makes it all the more difficult. You really are forgiving the transgression, not the person. Because the same person will transgress and transgress. You forgive the one and then, another will come. You must pray through each one and commit to forgive each one. That’s why forgiving the person doesn’t work!
Perhaps that is where I am going wrong. That is where this sermon ultimately hit me. I am trying to forgive the person. That isn’t detailed enough. I need to forgive the transgression. By each person. Over and over and over again. It’s the only way to deal with someone who is intimate in your life. Even if you cut off relations, they are still there, perhaps talking behind your back, or doing other things they shouldn’t be doing. And you will hear about it. And then, you must forgive that transgression too. And let’s face it. Deep down inside, because the rift isn’t healed and may never heal, you know they will probably do something in the future- and that knowledge probably adds to the torment. We need to forgive that transgression too, whatever our worst fear is. Just forgive it ahead of time. There will be no peace until we just go and do it. Seventy times seven times. To infinity, just like Jesus said.
We have a choice- that is both the blessing and the curse God has given us as his Children. We are gifted, unlike any other creation of God’s. We have the knowledge of Good and Evil. He let us eat from that tree. Now, through the Holy Spirit, we have the POWER to choose Good. We have the power to obey God. We must call upon the power of the Holy Spirit and then, DO as commanded. We must FORGIVE every transgression that has been done or will ever be done by those closest to us in our lives. Only then can we live in the Heaven in our Midst.
I just thought I might share that revelation with you today. The thought of forgiving by transgression. It might help you to deal with intimate, damaging relationships like mine. And then, praise God in Heaven, begin to live in his kingdom, before you even die. God bless… Susan