The Teacher, Qoheleth, having discerned the riddles of life, says:
“See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.”
~Ecclesiastes 7:29 (NRSV)
What comes as no surprise to a penitent Christian is an awful affront to many others; we are sinful, fallible human beings. If the Apostle Paul could not rein in his sinfulness we don’t stand much of a chance. This is not even about Christian doctrine; it’s a fact of life—we make mistakes, upset people, have bad days, and generally make a hash of life in so many ways.
We see this when we’re honest. And if we can see the reality about ourselves—that we “devise schemes” despite our “straightforward” design—we won’t withhold our forgiveness of others just as emotionally distraught and spiritually infirmed.
Grace Is Not Too Academic
As we consider the foregoing, knowing full well that we try to be good but often aren’t, we recognise our own needs for forgiveness. It isn’t such a colossal leap, then, to begin to see others’ needs, similarly.
We transgress others as they will transgress us.
If forgiveness was to be withheld from us we could see how difficult it might be for us to forgive; it may be hard to give grace when we have been forgiven precious little, but as we venture forward our forgiveness it boomerangs back—eventually. We feel better in forgiving in any event.
The grace of forgiveness is not difficult to understand. We all need it; from God, sure, but we also need it from our fellow human beings who we wrong in an instant.
So, when they wrong us—despite our hurt—we need to understand, even logically, they need a way back just as much as we need it when we’ve done wrong.
The Secret To Happiness In A Human World
The subtitle might be a bold promise, but it’s substantially true when we connect the concept of happiness within the realm of humanity and not expecting too much; even being surprised regarding the good in people.
We are happiest in our human world when we pleasantly accept the fallibility of the people around us because we are continuously reminded of our own fallibility. We understand none of us can help it, though we try hard; sometimes too hard.
With low expectations of them as persons we ensure we give people plenty of space to fail and, therefore, to feel they belong.
People are trying their best to travel the journey of life—other people and circumstances are great complications to that end. Life is hard enough without imposing high standards over people.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.