Interaction on Forgiveness

On my Christian dating site, I had an interaction with another member about forgiveness. I’ll label the parties PERSON and JAMES:

PERSON: “I read this this morning and it really smacked my heart good…….I’ve been struggling with a certain person and fully forgiving him, and even saying these exact words………Felt led to share this….

“by: Ken Sande

“‘I sometimes hear people say, ‘I forgive him; I just don’t want to have anything to do with him again.’ This statement always makes me think of the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, ‘forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’ (Matthew 6:12). Therefore, I will often respond to this kind of statement by asking, ‘What would happen if God forgave you in exactly the same way you are forgiving this other person? To put it another way, how would you feel if you had just confessed your sin to the Lord and then heard His voice saying, ‘I forgive you; I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again’? Most people quickly agree that they wouldn’t feel the least bit forgiven. As Christians, we cannot overlook the direct relationship between God’s forgiveness and our forgiveness.’

“I have to tell ya, I’ve been convicted about forgiveness…….and I do not want my Lord to forgive me the same way I have been forgiving…..Please pray for me about this and the situation I have with this young man, whom God has put on my heart to pray for, but I keep letting his past interfere with what God has for his future………”

JAMES: “The thing is, we can’t be friends with everyone on the face of the earth. I mean, how much time do we have to spend with a person before God’s satisfied that we’ve forgiven him? If forgiveness means that I have to like or be friends with everyone, then that standard is too high, and God’s making salvation based on works when he requires us to forgive that way in order to receive his forgiveness.”

PERSON: “Thank you James, and I agree with what you[‘]r[e] saying. I don’t spend time with this young man and don’t feel like God is calling me to, however, I do feel like He wants me to keep him in prayer. And I do believe when we forgive it should be with a whole heart. Then if this young man does need help or attention at some point in time I can do it with a glad heart instead of a hardened one……….”

I think this is a good approach to forgiveness: keep my options open. I don’t have to be friends with everyone, but I should put out of my heart any hatred or hostility I may have towards a person, with God’s help, of course. Maybe God can then use me to minister to him or her sometime in the future.

Where am I on this? I’m not doing very well! For some people, I fantasize about having a position of power over them and then refusing to help them. “Then they’ll respect me,” I think.

For others, I simply keep my distance. I have a hard time “forgiving” others–if forgiveness means acting like an offense doesn’t matter. But I resolve not to bad-mouth the person who has hurt me. I’m hesitant to pat myself on the back for this, however, since there are civil laws against slander. The law keeps me in check. But the civil laws are based in some sense on God’s law, so maybe I can assume that God is keeping me in line.

The person with whom I interacted has a conception of forgiveness that is easier, but it’s still not easy!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Interaction on Forgiveness

  1. Anonymous says:

    For me, the hard part is not necessarily forgiving, but forgetting–mainly because, as the old agage goes, “hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me”. Which is why I may be able to forgive someone, but not wish to associate with them after a hurt. Janice

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  2. Bryan L says:

    I think your approach to forgiveness is good. I don’t think we have to be all chummy and buddy buddy with everyone much less those who’ve hurt us. But as you said we can put out of our heart any hostility and hatred towards them and hold onto the hope that someday we won’t hurt anymore and that we will feel free from any grudge or unforgiveness we have towards them (which is what we want). Sometimes time is all we need.

    Bryan L

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