I know, I know, I’ve asked this question before. I’ve considered it and listened to what people have to say on it, and I am still a bit lost as to what it is exactly. When Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother seventy times seven, I get that he meant just keep forgiving, but I don’t get what it is Peter is supposed to “do” or even “feel” or “will” as he keeps on forgiving that brother over and over again.
Now there’s eight of us living in this house, and Al and I have been married for 23+ years, and as neither of us are impeccable, there’s been some forgiving to do. So, somewhere in there, I must know how to do it, because I have done it. My guess is, without going over the details of who did what to whom, that the reason forgiveness happened was because we were sorry. Chances are that with perhaps some rare exceptions, we didn’t mean it and the other person knew we didn’t and so forgiveness is given and received and life goes on. All that seems easy enough to me. I am guessing you don’t really need to be a Christian to get your head and heart around that. I might be wrong and I suppose that all forgiveness is found from God’s grace, but I don’t think most people would bear a grudge over a forgotten book of stamps or whatever.
It’s the big stuff I wonder about. The OT reading this morning was a strong admonition against taking revenge, and that makes sense, but that leaves the question of revenge versus justice and of course defense. It is the anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks right now. I am sure that day has images scorched onto the memories of most of us, leaving us specific people to pray for even if we don’t know their names. There must be many untold stories of families who have learned to forgive the people who did this to them. But again I am left wondering what form this forgiveness takes.
I had come to the probably inaccurate conclusion that forgiveness means not taking revenge, putting aside the thoughts of anger that might lead to wanting revenge and not wishing damnation on the other person. I have also come to the conclusion over all that it is a lot easier to forgive people who are sorry, or who do horrible things in a non-malicious way.
Jesus offers forgiveness to all, but as the new translation says He shed His Precious Blood for “many” which seems to imply there are plenty of people who don’t want to be forgiven. Hell is a choice after all.
Still, how to forgive…it’s a biggie.
Are we supposed to keep in contact with people no matter how often they abuse us? Is going back for more part of the seventy times seven Jesus spoke of?
Does forgiveness mean not asking for justice, and what is the difference between justice and revenge?
How do you forgive someone who isn’t sorry, but with whom you must have contact anyway?
Is it unforgiving to break contact with a person who has abused you?
Does forgiving mean forgetting = and how does that work?
Does God forgive everyone, and if so, what’s hell for?
What is the process of forgiveness? Does it happen in a flash or words, or does it take time?
I think I might have a go at these questions on the blog – and who knows maybe there’ll be a lesson set out of it.