Love forgives as God forgives

by Craig on May 12, 2011

First of all I hate that there is so little real love and so much brokenness to this world. It’s a beautiful blue orb reflecting the Sun’s light and twirling through the dark of space but it’s broken.

By not operating the way we are designed we break it more every day. Every time I sin, every time I transgress (and transgression is different from sin – here) I add another crack in the already ruptured world.

So daily, I add to the mess.

I’m sorry Lord.

And as the world is broken – so are we all. What was meant to be a haven for us creations of God, his children, is now a place that attacks our heart repeatedly. And. we. break.

This forgiveness thing – does it heal some of the brokenness?

If we split the world apart by sinning do we refresh it a little when we forgive?

And if we improve the condition of the broken world when we forgive – do we do the same for ourselves? And if I don’t forgive as You forgives, can I be forgiven?

The quick of the answer is

… no …

I have not forgiven someone if I desire revenge, or dire consequences, for the one who has injured me.


The why of it is simple. We are to forgive as You forgive, Lord.

And this forgiveness is not some abstract concept of a distant God issuing perfect forgiveness.

You were brutally and publicly murdered.

“Father forgive them, they know not what they do”

I have sinned countless times in this life – and strangely, more since I’ve known you than when I didn’t. Not that my behavior is worse, because it’s far better, but because I know now what is dark and what is light.

But every. single. time.

You forgive me.

You blot out the sin.

It’s an accounting term, this “blotting out”. It’s the difference between:

leaving the bad data in the little rectangles of a spread sheet – and just ignoring it, and moving onto new spaces to put in the correct data…

or removing the incorrect data so no numerical imperfection exists anywhere.

It’s the difference between crossing out – and erasing.

 

My sin,
all of it,
has been “blotted out”,
erased,
it no longer exists.

That is Your type of forgiveness, Lord.

So that has to be mine too.

Forgiveness is such a big thing,

that in the Lord’s Prayer,

it’s the only part that comes with a caveat,

forgive us as we forgive…

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora May 12, 2011 at 8:30 am

Craig, first let me thank you for taking the time to REALLY read comments and take them seriously enough to give answers that mean something. I come back back here all the time, not only to reread your posts, but to read others’ comments and your replies to those. The discussions have meant so much to me.

Second, thank you for taking the time to address my questions and comments here. Life has a way of happening slowly, over a long period of time, and sometimes it’s hard to find words for “all of that” that seemed to change you in slow motion. You wondered what my Pastor said. Pretty much the same as you said. Pretty much what I already knew myself. I thought I had forgiven and “gotten past” it all. And for a time after this statement of hoping someone would rot in Hell, I was in the whole new process of seeing a whole new (or should I say OLD) me. I’m not sure how Biblical this is, but it seemed my process of forgiveness came in “layers” or stages as I went deeper into all that had been affected in my life. As I have talked with other women who have been abused, I’ve come to realize that almost 100% will at some level say, “Oh, that part never bothered me,” or “that was never an issue,” or “that is something I don’t think I need to deal with.” There’s always a level at which someone doesn’t want to go any deeper —- and it is THERE that the Lord knows lies the unforgiveness. There was a moment when I knew I stood at the crossroads with that “accountant’s sheet” in my hands and all of this was on it and it was up to me to decide what to do with it — blot it out of my book and put it on God’s account, or leave it there and let it fester inside of me the rest of my life. I chose forgiveness.

I know I’m opening a can of worms here for a lot of people. I’ve come to realize that most believe you can’t forgive (or don’t have to forgive) unless the trespassor asks for forgiveness. I learned the flip side of that coin. A friend called me in the middle of the night on the edge of suicide. She had just had an abortion. No one knew she was pregnant. I met with her, and through the conversation, it came out that she knew she could not be forgiven for this. Why??? She believed that unless she could ask forgiveness of that baby and that baby forgive her, she could not ever be forgiven by God and therefore, she was going to Hell anyways.

It was then that I learned to always turn the coins over. If we hold tight to a coin because of one side, then we have to accept the other side. And if the other side is unacceptable or untrue, then the coin is counterfeit and given to deceive and confuse.

If a person has to ask for forgiveness from me in order for me to give forgiveness, then the same holds true — I will never be forgiven for that which I have not asked forgiveness for. That’s scarey, since I can’t remember everything I ever did in my life. I could never carry that burden.

Craig, thank you for this today. I love the accountant’s sheet explanation. Word pictures work so well for me and I hang on to those. This has been like a fresh, spring rain washing for my soul today. Even though it is long past and long forgiven, some things need a freshening once in a while, a new look, and a chance to share with others. I feel like I’ve taken a lot of space here, but I hope it has helped someone else, too!

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Craig May 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

So much thought there Cora – more blog fodder for me (squeeeee – but in the most masculine way of course). I was told once to keep my comments short, not take over the space, but you know what? I heart thoughtful comments – I don’t care how long they are – I heart your comments short – I heart them long – I just heart them. Thank you You have stretched me, taught me, and led me to Our Lord. Yay Cora!! God bless.

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Dawn May 12, 2011 at 8:49 am

Craig,

Because of your forgiveness blogs and a word play blog on Romans 8:28 from someone else, I have been all wrapped up in this forgiveness theme. It directed what I posted on my own blog today. There are so many aspects to forgiveness. One could devote a whole blog to it, just as you have done with love. I have been convicted, disciplined, reminded, reprimanded, stretched and RELEASED through these posts and discussions. It’s 10 am here. I think I’ll go out and live what I’m learning! What a concept!

Thanks Craig and Cora,
God bless you both,
Dawn

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Craig May 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

I heart when God weaves a tapestry – this time a forgiveness tapestry for you. HEART that. I am really glad you found some worth in my words – I just talked with God, took out the book, dug in a little, got filled, overflowed – no big. Still, thank you Dawn, and as always, God Bless you.

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Cora May 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

PS. That didn’t sound right. I DO believe I need to ask forgiveness when I wrong someone. But I do believe that God has forgiven me — He forgave me long ago on the Cross for ALL my sin. We can do our best to forgive and ask forgiveness, but I trust that what I can’t remember, or where I didn’t know that I offended someone, is covered by the cross.

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Michelle May 13, 2011 at 4:24 am

Hi Cora, I agree with you. But there are also times (such as death, distance, loss of contact for whatever reason) that we can’t do that.

I’ve been reading this yesterday and today and thinking – yeah, I’ve forgiven what happened to me when I was younger (and no, I won’t go back to a school reunion because of what happened – don’t believe in allowing the enemy to re-open a door for abuse in any form), but there is one person that I have to keep praying for, because I really don’t LIKE him. Never have, don’t think I ever will. But I am called to forgive and love. I would, I believe, cross the road to avoid him, just because of who he was. I have also heard that he was a head-master at a school now, and my heart sank. Mainly because of what he was like as a child/teen/young adult. I pray that he has changed, because otherwise I hate to think of the damage that could be done. Anyways, all this to say, I have to keep giving that person to God, forgiving him for what he had done to me, praying for his salvation, so have I really forgiven him? I guess too, that by avoiding him (not that we are anywhere near each other, and it would only be at a funeral of someone we both were close to in the town I grew up in and that isn’t really likely) am I making him bigger and badder than he really is?

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Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home May 13, 2011 at 6:11 am

“I guess too, that by avoiding him… am I making him bigger and badder than he really is?”
No. I don’t believe you are, just my opinion.

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Cora May 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

Michelle, let me first say how sorry I am that you have to carry this and that this happened to you. Like Craig said, there are so many hurting broken people in a broken world. Have you really forgiven him? I don’t think WE can answer that for you. And maybe YOU can’t either right now. You are on the right road — giving him to God, praying for his salvation, etc. The question you raised are the ones HE wants to answer for you. Ask them of HIM and I just know He will tell you when you are ready for the answer. And are you making him bigger and badder than he really is? Don’t believe that lie. Satan would have you belittle yourself that way and diminish the pain inflicted on you. The fact that it is still there tells me it’s a biggie! I’ll be praying for you, Michelle!

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Michelle May 14, 2011 at 2:57 am

Thank you both, Sharon and Cora. I guess the bigger and badder is kinda like the monsters under the bed. If we don’t look at it, it is really big and scary, but if we put a light under there we can see it is just a dust bunny in disguise. And I know that is so true of many things. They look big and bad, but when we shine THE LIGHT on them, they just shrivel up (just like the word says). I will know if I ever see him whether or not I have forgiven him, and I know that satan will have us believe the lie, and I know that my God is gracious and will give me what I need when I need it. The grace to forgive, and all.

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Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home May 13, 2011 at 6:16 am

I found that I had completely forgiven my abusers when I became more concerned with their coming to salvation in Christ, than to see them suffer for what they had done to me.
Their sin against me, in the bigger picture, is not much different than My sin against someone else… it is all sin against God.
And Praise the Lord, He forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives and …

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Cora May 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

Sharon, I loved your comment here. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say they would not forgive someone for just the reasons you mentioned here —– they did NOT want to someday care about the abuser, pray for them, and maybe love them. I find it almost ironic that our hearts just tell us that forgiveness will do the same things that Christ did for us when He forgave us. Most people do not see their “little” sins as important and hurtful as the ones done against them. It is truly a wise and mature person who sees sin as you do. When we get to the point where OUR sin and relationship with the Father is more important than THEIR sin against us —– then we can REALLY say we know forgiveness!

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I have nothing to add – your wisdom is so on target Sharon – as always – and I am just admiring the exchange of wisdom between people I heart. God bless you.

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A. May 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

This is very, very helpful, all of you. There is such healing in just hearing the wisdom and some or all of it from personal experience. It is hard, too, I find to forgive in a sense when the person (abuser) is still living, still a part of one’s closer world I think Michelle is wise to stay away since she can. Jesus slipped away from the crowd that meant to harm him. I am learning that sometimes I can walk away and sometimes I have to stay but with healthy boundaries-and I am still learning how to do the latter because each situation that presents is a bit different .

I am helped here, too, by the comments about forgiving in the absence of being asked for forgiveness. I have pondered that for a few years. What has been shared here makes sense.

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Craig May 14, 2011 at 3:34 am

I just heart having you around A. That is all :)

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Melissa May 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Perfect timing. My pastor spoke this morning about bitterness and hate as the opposite of what God wants from us. The bottom line is that we have all been hurt, though some more than others; whether we love or hate is our choice.

I think it’s hard for us, sometimes, to have full comprehension of God’s forgiveness. It’s so foreign to our own nature! I’ve found that the only way I can forgive someone who hurts me, though, is to remember how much I’ve been forgiven through Jesus.

Thanks for your comments on my blog. Thanks for reminding me, too, that I disabled comment moderation but didn’t edit my “Leave a comment” text. It might have been early, but you saw my mistake, not yours. :)

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Melissa May 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I should say that “… sometimes, the only way I can forgive ….” Minor hurts are easy enough to forgive. A few years ago a friend hurt me deeply, though. As I wept, I remembered how God has forgiven me, and that enabled me to forgive my friend.

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Craig May 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Melissa – so true – love or not love it’s our choice – moment by moment. Thank you for that. And it is so good to note – where in the past I’ve been forgiven – not just by God – but by people – for something I refuse to forgive. God bless you Melissa – and thank you.

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Melissa May 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Excellent point, Craig, about where we’ve been forgiven by others for the same things we refuse to forgive. That’s a tough one to swallow, isn’t it?

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Debbie May 16, 2011 at 2:12 am

Thank you, Craig and everyone! This all helps me tremendously to keep to the road of forgiveness. Whether asked to forgive or not .. .I have to and want to. Living with unforgiveness just doesn’t work. Please pray for me to do as He desires in all of this! God bless you for providing such a wonderful place to share and talk and learn!

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Craig May 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

And I guess we don’t need to rush and tell the person they are forgiven – if they don’t want to hear it. But yup – we have to forgive – no way around it. I just finished praying for your sitch. God bless you Deb.

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Elizabeth August 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

Your post, a blessing as always.

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Craig August 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

… And I seriously mean this Elizabeth – It can’t have been any more of a blessing than your comment. Thank you! God bless and keep you!

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Alyssa Santos August 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

Craig,
Do you think that the issue of forgiveness is such a tremendous battle for all of us because of simple fact that we all need forgiveness and we all need to forgive and it seems like this impossible task of repair that we aren’t capable of entirely? Old hurts, childhood wounds, character assassinations — these are deep and scraping deep to remove them seems surgical. The process of forgiving ourselves and others takes our willingness and even steps or counseling to achieve but the real ingredient, the real blotting out, the true eraser is the spirit of Christ. He came to seek and save that which was lost and his Spirit, through believers, is doing the same thing — seeking out and saving lost lives and relationships. The complete package of forgiveness is incomplete without the Holy Spirit.
Blessings,
Aly

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Craig August 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Alyssa, your comment is so profound, and so deep – I kind of don’t want to dishonor it with a reply. Just kind of a nodding of the head. But you can’t see me nodding my head – so I’ve written these words ツ.

There has only been one unforgivable person in my life and Our Lord honestly did the forgiving for me – because one day I was full of unforgiveness – and the very next – and since then – it’s been more compassion toward the person – and sadness that he is the way he is – than anything else. Only God does something like that.

And I so agree – without the Holy Spirit – the package forgiveness is incomplete. we’re human – we can’t forgive as God forgives – without God. I truly enjoyed reading your comment Alyssa, thank you – thank you very much. And blessings to you too!

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Lisa notes... August 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm

So, so very thankful that we are asked to forgive and are so often forgiven. As broken as the world is, it would be far more so without the oil of forgiveness. Thanks, Craig, for another encouraging post.

P.S.
My daughter’s wedding went great on Saturday! It was a beautiful day, and I barely cried at all (on that exact day). ha.

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Craig August 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I heart how you phrase that Lisa, “the oil of forgiveness”. Forgiveness keeps things moving smoothly. I imagine this is mostly true in a marriage – I can only imagine it – but I guess it to be true. And I’m really glad your daughter’s wedding went great! And I can’t believe you didn’t cry much “on that exact day”. But I’m guessing what you’re saying is that were plenty of tears before and after “that exact day”. No?

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