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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Forgiveness: as Simple as Forgetting About Right and Wrong

Some time ago I learned a painful but fruitful lesson — people, all people, are sinners, and I cannot expect perfection from any of them, even of those who are mature in the faith.  I cannot even expect them to behave ‘morally’ (it’s impossible to settle on an ethic that could be fairly and agreeably applied).  We’re all corrupt.  And this is wonderful news; we’re all benefactors of God’s gracious forgiveness as an example of the forgiveness we’re to graciously bestow.
Holding people up to a holier-than-normal standard (i.e. something better than “sinner”) reveals self-righteousness, and a dangerous form of legalism.  Yet, this is exactly what we do when we refuse to forgive someone who has sinned, against us.
We ought not to be afraid of sin’s signs and symptoms in our lives or in the lives of others.  We ought more to celebrate the fact that all of us need the grace and forgiveness of God more than we even know.  But we certainly shouldn’t judge sin — that’s God’s job.
Our judgment of others’ sin
is the worst sin we commit.
To judge another’s sin
— to withhold our forgiveness —
is to hold ourselves up
as an example of someone without sin. 
That’s the biggest of lies.
The key to being a forgiving person is being constantly aware of the plank in our own eye.  We therefore cannot see the speck in theirs, nor are we interested in nit-picking.
Forgiveness is about forgetting about right and wrong — remember that sin blurs justice; all are wrong.  In conflict we may be less wrong or more wrong, but we’re still somewhat wrong.  Even if we’ve done nothing wrong in the conflict, to withhold our forgiveness is the most onerous sin — from righteousness to self-righteous hypocrisy at light speed.
It’s feeling wronged that causes us
to struggle with forgiveness.
When we finally comprehend the limitations in all people, ourselves included, grace abounds and compassion abides.
When we forget about right and wrong in conflict, we see issues with great clarity, because the log is removed from our eye.
The best thing we can do when we feel wronged, and are struggling to forgive, is to connect with God’s forgiveness that continues to forgive our wrongs.
Of which there are so many…
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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