Every person reading this has been hurt by someone, somewhere, sometime.  The range of emotion that results can be anything from slight to overwhelming… minor to devistating… small to momentous.  It all depends on factors that may be largely beyond our control as to how deeply we’re wounded.

This post was facilitated by a quote I ask you to consider.  It comes from Miroslav Volf in the book “Spacious Heart.”  He writes, “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and myself from the community of sinners.”

Wow.  Read that again and meditate upon it.

G.K. Chesterson was once asked to write an essay on the topic, “What Is Wrong With The World?”  He sent back in response, “I am…”  That is just a much shorter rendition of Mr. Volf’s statement.

The little cartoon to the right was chosen on purpose.  We find it hard to forgive because the price for forgiving is high.  If any of us are to forgive, it will come at a price… and a high one at that.  And that is why we are so reluctant to forgive… we’re not willing to pay the price.

I have come to realize that forgiveness is harder the more deeply we are wounded by others.  In fact, I would say that if a person is able to forgive easily, they have not been wounded deeply.  That is a significant thought and probably one reason why it is so difficult for us to forgive at times.  The more significant the hurt, the more difficult it will be to forgive. 

There are a few things I’m coming to understand about forgiveness.  As I write these I ask you to keep in mind that I am far from practicing it as I should.  I do better some times than others, but I still struggle.  Some days forgiveness is easier than others.  Some days I don’t want to forgive, but know I must or else be destroyed by the bitterness that an unforgiving attitude plants in my heart.  Anway… here are a few thoughts…

   Forgiveness means not taking revenge but leaving the other person to God’s mercy.  If I take steps to exact revenge from someone, it means I don’t believe God will make things right over the hurt I’ve experienced.  Revenge is (At least in my mind) disbelief in God {See Romans 12:19}.  Revenge simply adds to the hurt and pain of this world, and there is already enough of that without me adding more to it. 

   Forgiveness is a process… it is not an event.  There are people that I have forgiven… am forgiving… and will have to continue to forgive.  Some days the hurt a person has caused is small to non-existent… on those days I feel pretty good about my ability to forgive.  But then there are days I get mad at them again for what they did to cause me hurt… at those times I have to work to keep from being consumed with bitterness, rage, and anger toward them.  I have to choose to keep on forgiving or else I will find myself where I don’t want to be emotionally and spiritually.

   Forgiveness will cost me more than it does the other person.  Long after an event people move on.  Most of the time I doubt they even think about the hurt they may have caused me or others.  They probably don’t even let my name cross their radar.  So the process of forgiving is something I must do that actually doesn’t involve the other person much at all.  Me forgiving a person does not cost the other person anything.

   Forgiveness is my responsibility regardless of what anyone else says or does.  When it comes to forgiving, what other people do or do not do is meaningless.  I am the one responsible to forgive no matter if the other person asks for it or not… whether or not they care that I forgive… whether or not they hurt me again.

   Forgiveness prevents me from drinking emotional and spiritual poison that can destroy me.  A friend of mine once said, “Anger and bitterness is the poison I drink hoping you will die…”  If I don’t forgive, I am the one who pays the price of death… not the other person.  So I choose, for my good, to forgive so that I will not shrivle up and die a thousand deaths.

   Forgiveness frees me to live a life of joy out from under the weight of oppression.

   We are never more like Christ than when we forgive.  The first thing Jesus said on the cross was, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do…”

Forgiveness is… 1) Treating the person who hurt me as love would have me treat them, regardless of how I feel.  2) Choosing not to replay the hurt a person caused me over and over in my mind.  3) Reminding myself that I am in need of forgiveness just as much, if not more, than the person I am forgiving.  4) Yet another step that makes me more like Jesus.

Are you ready to pay the price of forgiveness?  If not, what is that drink you are holding in your hand…?