Thursday, May 22, 2014

Missing Link on Forgiveness

To tell you honestly, I don't know if most fellow Christians share this view that I will share.  Forgiveness is only full, in my opinion, when both forgiving and asking forgiveness are there. However, oftentimes, being Christians, we use as an example one of the seven last words of Jesus Christ: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Sounds awesome to hear that. So heart touching to feel.  Forgiveness at its finest.  After all, Jesus Christ said it.  Stephen said, "Lord, lay not their sin to their charge.", right?  Okay, let us check I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Let us remember that Scripture cannot truly contradict Scripture. In my opinion, the process of forgiveness is only full when forgiveness is extended to the person AND if that person who needs forgiveness admits his mistakes or asks for an apology. Then, how about Jesus Christ and Stephen? They have extended their hand of forgiveness, but without repentance or asking forgiveness they will remain in that state of not being forgiven, even if the offended party had forbear the offender's shortcoming. In case of salvation, if a person remained unrepentant or not wanting to ask forgiveness leading to him not wanting to have the real salvation experience, he is condemned already to hell as John 3:18 said.  In case of every day life experiences, if a person is not asking forgiveness if he needs it, it is both hurtful on both sides.

This is the very reason why we felt bad when wrong doers are unrepentant and unaffected.  It's not merely because we are bitter, but mainly because something is amiss. Something's not complete, so to speak. No wonder "Pride goeth before destruction..." as Proverbs 16:18 said. It may not automatically mean literal and physical destruction, since it is the book of Proverbs. However, it somehow gives us a reminder that pride, on both part of the offender and the offended, indeed destroys us within and left us hurt.

Clear and point blank: someone must forgive and someone must ask forgiveness. In other cases, the offender and the offended must both ask forgiveness and forgive each other at the same time.  Maybe we shall raise our eyebrows on that previous sentence, but sometimes, as offended ones, we do things to our offenders that are more than what the offenders did, or just plainly, we did them wrong in the process because we are hurt or pride kicked in.  I am saying this because it is a very wrong thing to justify acts like revenge or not forgiving to make the offender suffer more and call it "by-product of the offender's action or consequences of the offender's sin to the offended".  I heard and saw people with no appropriate authority give consequences to the offenders.  I also heard one minister mentioned that the treatment of the people to the offender is a consequence in itself.  However, because of sowing-and-reaping and cause-and-effect principles, we have forgotten that the offended will have their own consequences if they did the offenders something that is not right to be in their own hands. Only God and people who are in appropriate authority to execute consequences have the right to give consequences to the offenders.  [When I said appropriate authority, it means, for example, that if an act is criminal, then you should call the police or any law enforcing people to do it.  If the act is more of offense to your church only and it is not criminal, then have the church (not only the pastor, not only the chosen few) decide on the matter.  I hope you understood the picture.]. By the way, about that one, yes, it maybe a consequence to the offender itself, but the offended ones will have his own share of consequences when he took matters in his or her own hands.      

In the above paragraph, we may say that this is also one of the reasons why some offended ones are more miserable than the offenders.  Why? As a by-product of pride, they did actions or have imparted proud, painful words to the offender, making them an offender themselves.  No wonder we heard somewhere that forgiveness is a gift not only to the people that hurt you, but it is also a gift to our own selves as well.

What if the offended or the offender is already dead or missing in your network or abroad or out of town or intentionally disconnected from you for one reason or another?  Maybe you have better answers for this as this article is not error-proof or journalism or writer-friendly especially if I am at your "I don't feel you" or "I don't like you" side, but based on my experience and also my present perception of things, I think it is time to move on and consider this as your thorn in the flesh just like Apostle Paul have his.  Just like Apostle Paul, in his ministry, maybe we are being bothered by feeling of hatred or bitterness because someone didn't ask your forgiveness or someone didn't forgive you, which can be considered our own messenger of Satan.  Some will make fun or personally preach to you on this one, but one thing is sure: God's grace is sufficient as 2 Corinthians 12:9 stated, just like God's grace is sufficient for Apostle Paul.  After all, as Hebrews 4:16 said, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Ultimately, it takes God's grace for us to forgive and to ask forgiveness, and I consider it more grace for both to happen at the same time.

May you have an emotionally clear and enlightening day.

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