Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Forgiven as we Forgive--Linden Malki

Everyone is imperfect. Everyone has fallen short at some point. Sin hurts in three dimensions: Other people, ourselves, God. Because God loves us, anything that hurts any of His children hurts Him.
It's not that we don't know better. God spent several thousand years telling what He expects of us; we are supposed to have been passing this on not only by words but by our lives. St Paul told us that we can discern right from wrong studying God's creation and applying our minds (which He created) to the world. But our laziness and selfishness and greed get in the way. It's much easier to see where everybody else has gone wrong. That's one doorway into the necessity of forgiveness.

Forgiveness requires clarity. It doesn't mean that "everything is OK." If it was, there is no need to forgive. What it's all about is recognizing what is wrong, and choosing not to go down the road of retribution, grudges, and allowing ourselves to perpetuate a problem. We may be right, we may only think we are right. But only God can had ultimately solve the issue, in His own wisdom and His own way, and we need to get out of His way. I'm becoming more and more convinced that we need to clear our decks of anything that is not fit for His presence. Hanging on to "being right" when it is corroding our soul is not worth it
Asking God's forgiveness and being willing to forgive ourselves and others are two sides of the same coin. When we are honest with God and ask His forgiveness, it puts us in the right frame of mind to forgive others. And if our attitude is right, it doesn't make a difference if the forgivee appreciates it or not. If they do, a relationship can be restored. If not, we are at peace.

Forgiving hearts make healthy communities. I recently attended a college reunion where everybody was on good terms with everybody--no leftover grudges or snobbery or well-nursed resentments. Linfield College is a Baptist-related school, and many of my classmates are active in churches; several have been in ministries of various kinds. It was a delightful weekend, and helps me understand why Jesus was so adamant about the necessity of a forgiving heart.

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