RELIGION ROUNDTABLE

Don’t learn it, just do it

Like everything else in life that we learn to do, and learn to do well, we learn by practice.

Forgiveness is not something that believers have an option to learn, but it’s something that they’re commanded to do. God doesn’t ask us to forgive, but he very clearly commands us to forgive.

It’s a very dangerous trap for believers to try and “learn to forgive.” Jesus voluntarily died for us. He didn’t try and learn to die … he died. He even asked His Father to forgive those who put Him to death.

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

God forbid, but a person could die while we’re sitting around thinking about trying to learn to forgive them.

We can learn to forgive by being obedient to God’s Word, and not allowing our feelings to control us. Our human love is limited, but when we obey God’s Word, His unconditional love and power work through us to accomplish His will.

— Bob McClain, Living By Faith Ministry, Oxford

Forgiveness may be a process

Imagine you have inherited an old farmhouse. Though beautiful, it needs a lot of work: a new kitchen, a new bathroom, replace doors and windows, and so forth. You decide this farmhouse is worth fixing up, but you are not sure how.

Deciding to renovate, you begin to make decisions toward your vision of a renovated farmhouse. Slowly, your vision begins to be realized and your new home is taking shape.

Forgiveness in an important relationship may be seen as a process like this. Though there may be many strengths in a relationship, understanding why someone who was supposed to love you has hurt you in a profound way is difficult to comprehend. Your relationship may need a lot of work.

Forgiveness is part of that work but, like renovating the farmhouse, it is not as simple as just making the initial decision. Rather, forgiveness may be a series of decisions toward an ultimate vision of grace and love.

This transformative process can change both the forgiver and the forgiven. While apologies and seeking to make amends can profoundly help the process of forgiveness, these are not always offered. Forgiveness is still possible (but a continued relationship may not be the best course, especially if abuse has occurred), because forgiveness is about your soul as much as it is relational.

In Jesus, we find an ultimate example of grace and love for us to follow in order to forgive. When we can forgive others, we can let go of the resentment and hatred that would otherwise harden our hearts.

— Lesley Ann Earles, First Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville