Mar 15, 2012

Forgiveness is a Thing of the Past

We all know that there are different levels of forgiveness. Some of it is not that hard to do. Especially, over minor offenses that are coupled with an apologetic perpetrator who desperately wishes to correct any wrong they committed. Then there's the jerks on the freeway who cut you off and apply discouraging finger gestures toward your person. There's a special place in the afterlife for them. I'm not sure where it is. But I've been told it's very hot all times of the year. 

Anyway, ... 

If you've read enough about healing and forgiveness, then you probably know that it is a healthy thing to forgive people even when they don't ask to be forgiven. But where's the fun in that? I know, I know, ... we are to forgive the sins of others so our Heavenly Father will forgive us of our sins. I got that. Heck, I've even preached that. 

Forgiving others just so we can move on in life is a healthy and beneficial discipline that all of us need to embrace. However, the one aspect of forgiveness that people tend to share with me that I don't always agree with is when they expect me to contact the person who has wronged me in order to share with them that I forgive them. 


I mean, there are some extreme cases where I believe that is an appropriate path of action. However, when the other person doesn't have the strength of character to approach the one they've wronged and ask to work it out, I don't believe it's always necessary to be the "strong" or more "mature" one and lead the way toward freedom, reconciliation, etc. by calling them up on the phone and letting them know that you forgive them. (Unless, of course, God tells you to do just that). 

But when do we know it is the appropriate thing to do? Such an action could come across as smug or even lead to a new realm of anger or fighting. 

Imagine being on the receiving end of that phone call: 

"Hey, Bob, I'm just calling to tell you that I forgive you for being such a jerk. I know you were wrong and hurt me but I'm being the bigger person by letting you know that I ... yes I ... have thus chosen to forgive you of all wrong doing toward my person. So go and sin no more."

Here is my conclusion on the matter: If you wish to set someone free then go for it. If you believe it doesn't really matter one way or the other then I would still lend toward the setting of their persons free. However, if that person is a leader of others then I would not be so gungho on contacting them. I believe that such action needs to be prayerfully considered. For example, calling them up and letting them know that you do forgive them may, in fact, be the answer to their prayer. All of us feel awkward when it comes to reconciliation. And they may just not know how to bridge that gap. Yet, I believe there are times when calling them up and setting them free does not help them to grow. Consider the possiblity that they are the ones who, if they so desire to be set free or work things out, need to be the ones who call. They must "cowboy/cowgirl up." It's like many things in life that we just have to do ourselves. Like asking someone out on a date. Don't have your friends do it for you. You have to.  

Regardless, in all things, seek God for direction as well as those around you who know when you're just being stubborn.