Sometimes when I am listening to the “she said, she said,” of the day, I daydream about how to apply Jethro’s advice to Moses in my home. Are there judges for hire instead of babysitters? Don’t I have better things to do than to rule on whether or not referring to a fellow person as “Taco Sally” was meant to incite rage or giggles? Probably not.
What better way to spend my time than peacemaking. It is, after all, a fundamental characteristic of being a child of God. I spend so much time dealing with sisters (and on more rare occasions their brother) sinning against each other, I went to the oft quoted Matthew 18 passage that addresses just that topic. Of course the way to peace is forgiveness. I wrote down my observations about forgiveness in a brainstorm:
Forgiveness from Matthew 18 is:
- To be given repeatedly.
- Not to be withheld.
- Does not demand payment, but incurs debt.
- Secured by Christ either through his blood or his judgement in hell.
- Comparatively small to our own need for it.
- Seeks opportunity to be given. (i.e. does not wait idly for an apology)
- Fruit looks like it being given to others.
- Leaves safety to bring back the one in danger.
- Increases in intensity (e.g. witnesses) as it seeks to have victory.
- Hateful of sin and wants to see it cut off.
- Evidence that we have been forgiven.
- Accompanied by pity.
- From the heart.
I came away with a renewed sense that to gain another person by forgiveness is a privilege. To forgive our brother from our heart is to understand God’s world and our place in it rightly. And it’s not just for my kids’ skirmishes.
I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a month now, not sure how to finish it. Here are some thoughts about forgiveness, but how do we do it? And why is it so hard sometimes? Yesterday, I had a lovely talk with some ladies about what it means to be the chief of sinners. It means to compare ourselves to the holiness of God, and to see grace upon grace to our undeserving souls. It is to know that there is no sinner, not Cain, or Job’s friends, not Judas, or Paul, or Hitler, or Stalin, not your gossiping friend, or your adulterous husband, that you are not capable of becoming were it not for the sovereign grace of God working in you. This is where the work of forgiveness really begins. It starts with, “Lord have mercy on me!”