Forgiveness is not ~ 6. A One Time Event.
I can hold myself to high and unbiblical standards. For instance, I can believe that I should walk the aisle once, confess bitterness, ask for forgiveness, and then get up and live with no more inner conflict about the matter. This lie is reinforced by the ‘talk’ we Christians have adopted. Under the name of ‘accountability,’ we ask each another, “Have you forgiven?” The inference is that no matter how fresh or how old the wound is, forgiveness through a simple prayer concludes the issue.
Do you remember Peter’s description of Jesus’ life here on earth? He said, Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while they hurled insults at Him, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to His Father who judges righteously. I Peter 2:1-23 Jesus, modeled a lifestyle where he ‘kept entrusting’ himself to His Father when hurt by people. Every time a wound was inflicted, he was tempted to take revenge but in His holiness, He showed restraint and then trusted His Father to rule well over his life. Jesus didn’t just forgive others just once in some general sense. It was moment by moment, offense by offense, person by person.
I’ve received many women at the altar at the close of a teaching session. Some came to share their painful stories. Usually, the most serious wounds were sustained by family. When a hurt was forgiven, the relationship continued but similar wounds were suffered again. I told them that forgiveness will need to be repeated. When we live with the ones who hurt us so badly, our life will be characterized by act after act of intentional forgiveness. When hurt, we’ll stop, acknowledge our desire to take revenge, but then put the ones who hurt us in God’s hands – knowing He rules well.
Forgiveness was a life-style choice for Jesus, not a one time event captured in a verse in one of the Gospels. Peter, who lived and walked with Jesus, saw this way of living firsthand and it impacted him enough that he wrote about it for our benefit.
If someone close to you has hurt you, and if you decided yesterday to forgive them, perhaps you wonder why you feel pain again when they continue to hurt you. Shouldn’t yesterday’s forgiveness have taken care of today’s arrows? No. Not for you and me. Not for Jesus, either.
Teach me how to live like you, not according to others’ expectations. Amen