Archive for July 1st, 2008


Two-fer Tuesday: Forgiveness by Deacon Blue

Forgiving is hard, but it is necessary. God requires it of us. He forgives us (as does Jesus) and so we are expected to do the same. But we often don’t. Must we forgive everyone all the time? And if we do, doesn’t that just let them off the hook for their bad behavior?

Possibly, but aren’t you pretty happy that God is letting you off the hook for your bad behavior thanks to Jesus’ atoning death at Calvary?

Let’s look at a couple passages of Bible scripture first.

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew chapter 18, verses 21-22)

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke chapter 6, verses 27-36)

I know that Miz Pink in her post today on forgiveness already talks about the debt we owe and the debts owed us when it comes to doing wrong and forgiving wrongs. I won’t re-tread her points. I’m going to talk about more practical issues. The kind of shit that all of us ask when we are called upon to forgive.

So, I can stop forgiving a person after he or she had wronged me 490 times?

Don’t be so freaking literal. Jesus is telling us that we must be willing to forgive over and over and over again. That should be clear when you look at what he says in Luke.

So, then, we have to forgive everyone no matter what?

Yes and no. We do need to forgive everyone in the sense that we cannot cling to resentment or hate. Even if a person kills my child, I must be willing to let it go. That doesn’t mean forgetting the wrong (that’s God’s job; besides, it’s way too hard for a mere mortal to do), but it does mean we cannot keep thinking about it. If we won’t let go, we not only refuse to give a gift that we are all too happy to receive from God but we also eat ourselves up inside. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you should give up an appropriate recompense or seek justice where appropriate. But you cannot be malicious about it and you have to be able to give it over to God ultimately instead of holding anger in your heart.

Another important thing is to focus on the word “brother” in the first passage I quoted above. We must forgive everyone, but the more intimate focus is on those of us to whom we are literally related and those to whom we are related through our born-again status: our brothers and sisters in Christ. To those people, we have an even higher duty to not only forgive but to be willing to embrace them.

So, I’ve got to let people just walk all over me?

Sometimes, but not really. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you have to keep putting yourself in a position to be hurt by that person. If a relative steals from you every time he or she stays at your place, then forgive him or her, but stop inviting that person over! Use some common sense. I’m not advocating that you just cut off everyone at the slightest slight, but do be willing to know when it’s a losing proposition. Also, Jesus may have told us to turn the other cheek, but he didn’t tell us to also turn our butt cheeks once both facial cheeks have been reddened and he didn’t tell us to offer up the cheeks of others. There are times when you may have to defend yourself or someone else, either verbally or physically. We are told in the Bible to “live in peace as much as is possible,” so clearly there are times when either running away or standing to fight is the immediate choice, with forgiveness something to deal with later.


Two-fer Tuesday: Forgiveness by Miz Pink

I am not gonna lie. Also even though I don’t usually swear around here (unlike that sailor Deacon Blue), I’m a’gonna tell you something straight up: This bitch can hold a grudge.

I’m a sweetie up to a point (and that’s a might far reaching point) and it’s pretty hard to get me over the edge of Mt. PissedOff but it can happen. And when it does I tend not to return your phone calls for weeks, months. Rarely do I hold a grudge longer than a year but it has happened. A woman whose personality was a bit too much like mine (not that I had noticed or would have admitted it then)committed the terrible sin of marrying Sir Pink’s brother (whom I was kinda protective of) and I tell ya, I didn’t like the way she bossed my bro-in-law around. Of course, I also didn’t notice that I did the same thing to Sir Pink at the time (probably still do). Took me two years (or was it three?) of giving the frosty shoulder to notice that the two of them were (shocker!) in love and doing just fine without my righteous indignation thank you very much. We two gals get along famously now.

That’s not cool tough. Holding a stupid grudge so long. It really ain’t. I need to learn to forgive more. And faster. And without expecting some grateful fanfare for doing it. Oh and to forgive without resentment. To forgive the same way I am supposed to give…and that is: g.r.a.t.e.f.u.l.l.y.

Remember the Lord’s Prayer…the one Jesus gave us himself?

Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come and your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…and lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Some versions don’t say forgive us our debts but rather: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

But you know what I like about the word debt here? It tells us we owe something. When we do wrong to others (or to God), we owe God. We owe him a sincere apology and it is up to us to go to him to ask for forgivness through his son Jesus and that sacred blood he shed for us. Wouldn’t hurt to go apologize to the person we wronged too by the way.

When people wrong us, they owe God, certainly, but they also owe us. But remember how much God and Jesus don’t like usury? If you don’t know, that’s the loaning of money at really evil terms. When someone wrongs us and we hold it against them over a long period, we are tacking interest onto their debt that we aren’t authorized by God to add on there. We’re being loan sharks in a spiritual/emotional way.

Not our right. Not our place. Not good. Not good at all.

It is hard to forgive. But we have to. That doesn’t mean we have to like the folks who have wronged us by the way…it just means we have to move beyond it and say at some point (quickly if at all possible) that it’s no longer for us to carry around but between that person and God.

(Deke’s post on forgiveness today is here)

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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