Alphabet Of Manly Virtues: “F” Is For “Forgiveness”

23 May

fYou would think that after being a Christian for a number of years that I would be so much better than forgiveness that I used to be… I’m not.

It’s still hard. I’m still learning. I have a long way to go.

Growing up with a steady diet of 80s vigilante films, I have this strong desire to see the bad guy get his comeuppance in the end. I don’t want to see handcuffs slapped on him, I want to see him taken out. I’m not proud of this fact, but I feel this constant tug-of-war in my heart between the part of me that desires an eye-for-an-eye, and the part of me that knows Christ has called me to something higher.

When sin is perpetrated—whether against myself, someone I love, or simply an innocent bystander, anger wells up deep in my being… and I don’t think that this is a bad thing.

In Ephesians 4:26, Paul doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry”, but rather, “Be angry and do not sin.”

Anger is a completely legitimate emotional response to being sinned against, but we can’t set up camp and stay there permanently. Eventually we need to take the steps toward forgiveness rather than letting anger take root and become a deeper bitterness.

There are all kinds of times when I read a news story about someone truly evil, and I think to myself, “This person went too far. They don’t deserve my forgiveness.” But unfortunately the Bible doesn’t leave us room for that option. In Colossians 3:13, we are exhorted,

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

God has forgiven us and as a result we have to extend forgiveness to others. How do we do that exactly?

In Mark Driscoll’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” book, he has a list called “7 Things That Forgiveness Is Not” that is completely brilliant. Here it is:

  1. Forgiveness is not denying that sin occurred or diminishing its evil.
  2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
  3. Forgiveness is not necessarily a response to a repentant apology.
  4. Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us.
  5. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  6. Forgiveness is not trust.
  7. Forgiveness is not reconciliation.

Mark also points out,

“When we forgive others, it has very little, if anything to do with them. Instead, it has everything to do with God… In forgiving them we are leaving them to God, praying that they come to repentance, and freeing ourselves of bitterness. In the end, we simply cannot accept forgiveness from God without extending it to others.” (163)

Forgiveness can be a long and difficult process… it’s hard… some days I’m better at it than others… but it is better than the alternative of carrying the baggage of bitterness on your shoulders. Don’t take my word for it though, give a listen to Matthew West:

Are you holding onto unforgiveness? Let it go. Be free from bitterness starting today!

-Dave Wonders

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Yes, “David Wonders” is his real name. Dave is  a husband, a father, and the midday host at 104.3 The Pulse (thepulse.mn). Somehow he finds time to read absurd numbers of books.  Connect with Dave on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Klout.

2 Responses to “Alphabet Of Manly Virtues: “F” Is For “Forgiveness””

  1. Glenn taylor May 23, 2013 at 12:59 #

    You nailed it. I never understood forgiveness or gave it until I was shown…I was given a gift… I understood and began to forgive all of the people from things in my own past… How could I hold onto my grudges when I’d been forgiven and shown grace?! After that I realized I had never forgiven anyone ever… Just stuffed it away for later. Forgiveness is a refreshing shower …. It is not restoration… Thanks for adding those things it is not… It keeps it clear and simple

    • More Than A Beard May 23, 2013 at 14:32 #

      Thanks for weighing in Glenn! At the end of the day I think that forgiveness is as much a benefit (if not more) to us than to the people we are forgiving. It is a vital part of moving on with our lives rather than allowing the past to dictate things.

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