Reflection: If I must choose just one passage to illustrate what real peacemaking looks like, it’s this one.
It sounds simple but we know it’s not. It’s a commitment to restoring damaged relationships and negotiating just agreements… and both are only possible on a foundation of forgiveness – forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven us and seeking solutions that satisfy other’s interests as well as our own.
Even though Christians are the most forgiven people in the world, we know how difficult it is to forgive others genuinely and completely. Most of us deeply understand the need for forgiveness. Almost innately we know it is desperately important but many of us struggle to offer it to those who have hurt us. As CS Lewis says, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”
There’s a story told about a traveler making his way through a jungle. He comes to a shallow river and wades through but when he comes out, he is covered in leeches. His first instinct is to pull them off, but his guide stops him, warning him that pulling the leeches off will leave tiny pieces under the skin and infection will set in. He explains that the best way to get rid of the leeches is to soak them off in a warm bath when the leeches will release their hold and drop off.
So, it is when we’ve been significant injured by someone. We can’t simply hope to yank the injury from ourselves and expect all bitterness and emotion to be gone. The only way I know to become truly free of the offense is to first soak in God’s forgiveness for us. And when we’ve done that and finally and fully understand the extent of God’s love in Jesus for us, forgiving others is the only choice. I didn’t say it’s an easy choice, but it is the required and necessary one.
Question: Do you know that you are (or can be) completely forgiven by our God? Do you choose to completely forgive those you have injured you? Why, or why not?
Prayer: Gracious God, I have sinned against you and against _______. Forgive me I pray. As you drench me in your forgiveness, I pray that this might spill over into my relationships, that I might truly forgive those who have hurt me as you have forgiven me. Amen.