Last year our family suffered a violent armed attack in our house. Armed men entered our house, robbed us, and seemed to be set on killing me.
The attack was possible partially because a man who had worked for us since the week we arrived in the country betrayed us. He schemed with the bandits that he would be in our house and ensure the kitchen door would be unlocked. He feigned to be surprised and scared when they attacked. He picked up kids around our house when they got hurt, he was in our house every day. He and I are the same age, have the same number of kids, and we tried to support him in his quest to support his family.
I forgive him.
I realized I have to.
“Have to forgive” can be a tricky idea.
Do you ‘have to’ because God said you have to -and you feel you need to obey? Or you’re scared what will happen if you don’t? Or you feel pressured/obligated/forced to forgive?
‘Need’ to forgive feels a bit more accurate.
Jesus tells a story about a man who had a debt of ten thousand talents. A ‘talent’ was a currency worth 10,000 denarii. A denarius was what you could earn in a day of labor. So he owed 10,000×10,000 or 100 million days. If you earn $50,000 a year, this debt to you would be ~$52 Million. He had this debt forgiven. Then he turns and vengefully demands repayment from someone who owes him a bit less than $20,000.
What Jean-Paul ‘owes’ me as a ‘payment’ for what he did against me is the $20,000 compared to the $52,000,000+ that I owe for what I’ve done against God. So for me to say I won’t forgive J-P in light of this story is not so much “I have to” but more – “how can I not?”
How can I look at all the wrong I’ve done, built up over 47 years – and then hold this one event against someone in unforgiveness?
The servant with the large debt was forgiven ALL of it, so how then can he not forgive ALL of what is owed him?
So maybe it’s not so much ‘have to’ or even ‘need to’ but ‘get to.’
I get to forgive him because doing so also releases me from bitterness.
I get to because that’s what helps spread mercy, and goodness.
I get to because I realize in comparison to what I’ve been forgiven, it only makes sense.
What grudge are you holding? Who are you withholding forgiveness from? What hurt are you unwilling to move past?
Bring it to mind. Start to think of what you’ve done that’s similar – or maybe the exact same. What have you done to others? Put that hurt in context of how you’ve sinned. How you’ve failed. How you’ve hurt others.
Then revisit WHY you are unwilling to forgive that person.
Forgiving, ever merciful God,
You have forgiven me so much,
things I’ve done intentionally,
things I’ve tried to stop doing,
things I’ve not done that I really should have.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve felt it all.
You’ve forgiven it all.
Help me have the same attitude towards those who hurt me.