COUNTERINTUITIVE. That’s forgiveness. We fight a battle in the spiritual realm — a warfare manifest over the emotions — whenever we wrestle around forgiveness. And if we’re Christian we wrestle because we must. Any outcome short of forgiveness is untenable. That’s the hard part. There are some situations in our lives when we’re offended at the very thought of forgiving someone; we get so hurt. The anger in that attitude should be the golden clue to what we need to do: let go and forget. Move on, for our own benefit.
Anger is a noxious weed that will strangle the life of the little flower of forgiveness. Enslaved to anger we’ll be eroded from the inside out. But letting go of anger is managed by forgetting the transgression. We lay down our anger, because God has laid down his anger toward us (Matthew 6:9-15).
Here are seven astoundingly ironic facts about forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness is a contradiction. To address conflict we must attend to disharmony by harmony, and love past our indifference. Safety’s created by a risk. We give up our right to stay bitter to take up our responsibility to bless the person who’s wronged us.
2. Forgiveness is a paradox. We must practice it over and over again, pretending to be its master, before we actually master it. When we practice something we don’t know will work we work by faith. Nothing less than faith pleases God. But remember how big faith is — the size of a mustard seed (Luke 17:6).
3. Forgiveness is an irony. The more we speak about it, the less we do it. Forgiveness is love in action. But bitterness betrays love’s action. Bitterness rehearses the wrong done to us. Bitterness seems strong. The irony is love is so much stronger.
4. Forgiveness is an anomaly. It never feels right to do it, but it’s always a blessing when it’s done. Much faith is much love is much healing. An anomaly is usually something wrong. It feels wrong. Not until we actually do it do we realise what feels wrong is actually never more right.
5. Forgiveness is an enigma. How does knowing it and doing it help how we feel? The enigma is demystified when we see love in our heart has replaced negativity in our preoccupied mind. Forgiveness is an enigma because when we do it love fills our hearts replacing all that anger. Anger is driven by the fear of inferiority, of being abandoned, and of missing out, rooted in the deep abyss of envy.
6. Forgiveness is antinomy. To forgive is absurd to the worldly, but it’s the law of life for the believer. The enemy will try to confuse us. He will justify our anger. But we ought to know that God so often works in the reverse of logic.
7. Forgiveness is an anachronism. It seems at first we’re out of step with time, taking the humble path. But the humble path is the pathway to exaltation — of the person forgiven, of the relationship, and finally of ourselves. Forgiveness seems far too generous of spirit to be worthy to make sense of justice. It’s a kindness of yesteryear that is eternally appropriate, but one we never see in those terms until we’ve offered that sort of grace.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.