This week I started our new fall teaching series at Bethany on the topic of forgiveness. C.S. Lewis once observed, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.”
As Christians, we respect the concept of forgiveness. You probably understand that turning the other cheek is preferable to breaking your offender’s jaw. We know Eph. 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Christ for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” You are glad that God has forgiven you. Why then, is there such a disconnect between our understanding of forgiveness and our willingness to grant it to others?
Forgiveness is an issue that is ever-present in our lives. Sometimes the issues are serious (infidelity, abuse, murder). But more often it is the lesser offenses we must deal with…our child doesn’t receive an invitation to a birthday party, when we aren’t chose for a leadership position in the church, when a friend doesn’t show the proper concern for our problems, when a coworker spreads lies or insinuations about you.
Often we struggle with forgiveness for various reasons: we have never experienced it ourselves (you can’t give away what you don’t have). We are afraid to give up our guilt or blame, and often it is because we don’t really understand what it is and what it isn’t.
An article in Psychology Today (Jan/Feb 2004) said, “If physical exercise had a mental equivalent, it would probably be the process of forgiveness.”
Join us Bethany over the next seven weeks as we delve deep in this important issue, and seek to find freedom and strength for our spiritual lives through forgiveness.