Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Greatest Mother’s Day Gift

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

When someone hurts us, we are placed at a fork in the road. Simply put, we have two choices: forgiveness or resentment. Neither choice is easy. Resentment locks us in a prison of emotional pain. Forgiveness is freeing, but it’s not cheap.

Some have bought into the false notion that we forgive and forget. I don’t think that’s actually possible. The best we can probably do is forgive and repress, but that actually feels more like resentment.

Forgiveness is costly. Sometimes people will say, “That’s okay. It really doesn’t matter.” That’s not really forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is only required when their actions really did hurt and really do matter.

Think about this: forgiveness was tremendously costly to God. Jesus died on the cross to offer forgiveness of our sins. God couldn’t say, “That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” Our sin results in eternal separation from God. Our forgiveness comes at a considerable price.

Forgiveness is not brushing off someone else’s action. Forgiveness says, “I have every right to hold this against you. You harmed me. Intentionally or unintentionally, you did damage to me that I did not deserve. Because of that, you deserve to pay. You deserve the heat of my anger. You certainly don’t deserve to be in relationship with me. But, considering all of that, because Christ forgave me of much worse things, through Christ I am able to forgive you. I don’t know if I can trust you right away, but I am not going to let this stand between us. It will never be forgotten, but I’m not going to hold it against you. And, I will stop wishing that you’d get run over by a bus.”

Who do you need to forgive? On this Mother’s Day week, maybe you need to forgive your mother for something that happened long ago. I would encourage you to release that. Maybe forgiveness isn’t necessarily offered in a conversation with her, but it certainly can be offered in your heart. Even if your mother has passed from this life, it is worth it to free yourself from the bondage of resentment and to forgive.


  1. This is really good. It's amazing how freeing TRUE forgiveness can be when you allow forgiveness in your heart. Thank you for this...I know a person who I'm going to send this to so that she know what I've been trying hard to say about forgiveness. You said it so well

  2. I agree that it may not be possible to forgive and forget. I don't think that is what God has in mind when he said we have to forgive even our enemies, no matter how much they have hurt us.

    Whatever harm has come to us from whatever source can be considered to be somewhat of a debt. Something was taken from us, something of value. Jesus considers an offense against any of his children to be an offense against himself. (Matt 25:31-46)

    It is my duty to forgive that person, but that does not repay the debt (justice). We are to forgive the offender and look to God for repayment, as if he, God, were the offending party. And he promises to repay every bit of that debt in full with interest. (Luke 6:38) I am to look to him for repayment, he has taken that debt upon himself, and as such, I no longer have the right to look to the other person as anything other than an innocent person. I have the obligation to shift the blame to God and hold nothing against anyone else. He is a God of justice.

    I heard Adolf Coors talk about how a stalker had killed his father, and that he went to the killer's jail cell and forgave the man. He talked about how they came to be close friends. At first I thought that was a dumb thing to do, I could never do something like that. But over time, I have come to believe that may be the only acceptable path to forgiveness that makes sense to me. You might want to listen to his talk if you haven't heard it already.

    As an example in my own life, I have suffered every day of my life because of a mistake made by some unknown doctor and/or researcher, who created and gave me a vaccine that introduced the Polio virus into my body at age 4. For many years, I stewed in my hatred for whoever did that to me, with every agonizing step I took on my crutches and braces, for every push of the wheels of my chair, for every time someone looked away from my shame, for every time someone rejected me as worthless in the workplace, for all this and much more I developed the art of how to hate whoever had done this to me. Then Jesus came into my life and gave the object of my hatred a face. Not only will he repay that debt to me, he feels my pain every time I scream out against the injustice, the sting of every tear shed at just how much I have lost. He is acutely aware of that, and promises to make it right, to make me whole again and erase the debt. And I know that he alone is capable of actually making that payment that no human ever could, no matter how much they might try. It's a win-win for everyone.

    He also told us not to seek revenge because that is his province. (Romans 12:19) I don't have to worry about what happens to that other person, he/she has to deal with God now. I am free to love them completely, without reservation and to pray for them, that they will seek his forgiveness, because it is indeed a fearsome thing to experience the wrath of God. (Heb 10:31)

    For all these reasons, I can now not only forgive my enemy, but I can honestly and fervently seek their salvation and hope that they will not suffer anything because of whatever they may have done to me, like Stephen did as he was being stoned.