On Forgiveness

We have talked about forgiveness a lot this week at home. It started with a conversation about a horrific event that happened at the Mall of America to a young boy last week. Evil is everywhere in this world, we are not exempt from it and honestly when we hear stories, especially stories about children getting hurt, we are outraged.

Our youngest son was visibly upset upon hearing what had happened to this innocent boy. He spoke angry words of revenge at what should happen to the man who committed the crime. I get it, I do. But I said to him that revenge wasn’t the answer. Yes this man would have to pay for his crime, we have a legal system set up to manage that…but ultimately we are called to have hearts of forgiveness.

He was shocked by what I said and asked me an incredibly difficult question. “So if he had done that to me mom, would you forgive him?”

Ugh. That’s some reality right there. It is easy for me to say we need to forgive, but could I really do it if it happened to me? I was honest and told him that I hoped that I was never put in a situation where I was called to that kind of radical forgiveness. But what I did know was that when we live with resentment against someone else, it is like a poison. Often times our hatred towards the “enemy” only ends up hurting us more than the intended person.

I have heard it said that forgiveness isn’t letting someone off the hook for what they have done, rather letting go of the bitterness/hatred you are feeling so that you can move forward.

And then I told Elijah that if this man, who had committed this heinous act, at some point came to a true repentance of his actions and asked God for forgiveness, that I believed God would forgive him.

“No way!” he said…

It doesn’t make sense does it? So I used that time to tell him about a man named Paul, a mighty disciple of God who at one time was named Saul and spent his days persecuting and murdering Christians for their faith. Yes, for centuries God has been using sinners and radically transforming them for His glory.

That night we did one of our Bible lessons and it was part of the story of David. The lesson before had told of his mighty defeat of Goliath. How God had called him and anointed him. But this evenings story looked at the sinful side of David’s heart. How he longed for Bathsheba, took her for his own, got her pregnant and then had her husband killed at war so he wouldn’t be found out.

“But I thought he was a hero?” our daughter said.

From hero to murderer….

And yet, because of David’s willingness to repent and ask for forgiveness, God forgave him, blessed him and used him in amazing ways. And while many of us won’t find ourselves on either end of that extreme spectrum, hero nor murderer, we all fall somewhere in between don’t we?

To illustrate further, Dominic drew this picture of a ladder, and wrote the word “fib” at the very bottom rung and “murder” at the very top. He filled it in with other things, ways we sin and hurt others in varying intensity. And we talked about how we like to rate our sin. We like to say that my sin isn’t as bad as that sin. But on the other side of the page he drew the word God at the top and the word sin at the bottom. Telling the kids that to God, sin was sin. Then he drew a cross extending the entire page and we talked about how Jesus’ death on the cross covered our sins.

It was powerful.

Look I probably sound like a broken record because I say this time and time again. I don’t know that I can fully grasp the unconditional love and forgiveness that God has offered to me. The weightiness of it, especially during this season is ever present. I am more aware of my own sinfulness and the incredible gift of forgiveness that God has offered to me.

So as we enter into the next few days, let us reflect on what God has done for us. If there are things we need to repent for, be swift about it. If there are things we need to be forgiving of, for the sake of our hearts, let us try with God’s help and example to be forgiving. The body of Jesus was broken beyond recognition for us, let us not forget that sacrifice. May the overwhelming nature of that gift draw us ever closer to seeking to know God more.

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