I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of forgiveness lately. I know that I am to forgive Martin for what he did but what does that really mean? As women who have been through divorce I know many of us played the part of forgiving our husbands of wrong doing. Sometimes we forgave many times over when it was not even deserved. And I guess this is where we get confused about the difference between the unconditional love of God and the forgiveness He expects from us because he forgave us.
God loves us. Period. If we submit to him as Lord of our life and believe that Jesus is God – He is just and willing to forgive us our sins. And we sin everyday. No matter how “good” we are. We need that forgiveness because we can only get it through mercy and grace. We can’t earn it…none of us are THAT good. When He forgives our sins the Bible says He also forgets them. “And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17.
But I don’t think God expects that of us. Instead the level of forgiveness he expects from us is more for us than the other person. It is to release our hearts from bitterness which is sin itself. It frees us to move on and it stops us from reliving past hurts so that they keep causing damage. We are to forgive over and over again. It is not about justice or payback. When we remember (as we will because we are humans and not God) we should forgive again. Some things will have to be continually forgiven. And all that means is that you are not making them pay. There is no retribution for what they did.
Does it mean that things go back the way they were? No. Because you don’t forget. And if the sin was great enough it would be unwise to put things the way they were. You don’t forgive a rapist and get back into bed with them. Nor do you trust a liar automatically believing they will never lie again. No. You have to apply a reasonable amount of caution to the situation. You have to give that person a chance to repair the damage. That is all it means. And depending on the offense that can mean lots of different things.
To women who have been betrayed by a husband. Losing your trust and faith in them is not the same as losing your trust and faith in God. People let you down and when they do it over and over again and show no signs of repentance you do not owe them unconditional love. God does not require that from us. That is his job. But when someone’s heart is softened, when they are truly repentant, and when they show signs of that repentance by changing their actions; we are obligated to treat them as anyone else instead of through the filter of the hurt they’ve caused us. It’s not easy. I do it with my ex all the time.
There are times when I feel like the only thing that would make me feel better is to chop off his head. But those feelings are more like flashes. They don’t last. I remember all the bad things I’ve done and I realize that God forgave me. I am not perfect. I’ve done many things wrong. And it is true that as we get closer to God we see ourselves for who we are even more clearly. And that is we are despicable sinful creatures compared to a perfect and awesome God. Our gratitude for that forgiveness is motivation enough to forgive others. And if we have not elevated others above God. If we haven’t put others in that impossible position of being perfect and responsible for our happiness….then seeing them for the flawed human beings they are is not a stretch. It’s expected. And it’s easier to forgive.
I forgive Martin. He has to earn trust back now. But I can’t help but forgive him.