New beginnings. That’s what some people are hoping for at the start of 2014. Cue the song “High Hopes” (I’m really not being cynical here either…really). I believe in the God of second chances, do you? I believe that when His disciples asked Him how many times they had to forgive Jesus told them seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-22). I know that He wasn’t just giving them a random number out of His head and it wasn’t legalistic in the sense that they only had to forgive 490 times (that’s 70 X 7 by the way for us who had to use a calculator cause we suck at math). I believe the disciples eventually got Jesus’ point. Forgiveness isn’t really about how many times we have to forgive but rather about the conditions of our hearts and the willingness to find grace for others. Isn’t that what God has done for us? We mess up royally and we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and yet His prevenient grace is offered to us through Christ. He forgives us COMPLETELY!
I don’t wish to imply that there are conditions on forgiveness here but think of it this way: Forgiveness of others and those who have wronged you alleviates the burdens and scorn you may still have in your heart for that person(s). They may not even seek sincere forgiveness from you but when you wipe the slate clean of transgressions done to you, you are clearing the weight of that burdens of wrongs done to you. It may sound selfish, but why live life burdened by the wrongs of others? It holds you back. It holds you captive. You will always be a prisoner to their wrong doings done to you even if they have moved on. So why let it fester? Why let that kind of emotional/spiritual sliver remain? Pluck it out and move on for your own health and well being.
Secondly, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you become naive and trust people who haven’t earned that trust yet, but it does mean that you move on. We must be wise in how we let others effect us coupled with the decisions we make which also impacts others. Forgiveness and trust aren’t always mutually the same. What forgiveness allows you to do (and the offending party) is to move on. I don’t believe that we have to automatically forget but we forgive. Afterall we can’t expect someone who has been sexually or physically abused to forget what was done to them right out of the “forgiveness gate”…it will take time to heal and to cope. In the same way that it may take years of counseling and healing for the abused, those who have been wronged in other ways will find that time needs to pass before trust and “forgetting” can ever take place.
Lastly, I mentioned earlier about what the year of Jubilee meant in the Hebrew culture. It was a year in which all debts were erased and people could start over. Perhaps 2014 is that year of Jubilee for you. Perhaps you’ve been holding onto pains, hurts, and grudges that need to be wiped completely away. Forgiveness heals and lifts burdens of all parties.
Are you willing to forgive? For those also who are seeking to find forgiveness, be strong. It takes a lot of courage to own up to wrong doings so that you can grow and move on. Don’t miss this opportunity on the first of the year to begin on the right foot!
-Just a thought for new beginnings.