The lines between us

I got burned this past year.

Badly.

A blaze of betrayal and rejection that left me a charred mess.

Sadly, this is true to all of our lives.  We’ve all been burned.  But once the fires die down and we are left facing ourselves and those who have hurt us, what are we supposed to do?  The judge and jury have ruled and the verdict is guilty.  So why does it feel like we are left living out the sentence instead of the person who hurt us?

Forgive them.

Okay, I can do that.  I can let go of the past and move on.

Wait.

Is this really how I view forgiveness?  “Let go of the past and move on” – sounds like a bumper sticker.  What I meant to say was:

Forgiveness – (verb),  to never mention past wrongs and to play nice with the people who screwed you over.

Isn’t that really what we think of forgiveness.  Play nice.  Have I really reduced forgiveness to niceness?  God must have had more in mind.

Matthew 5:38-42 (The Message)

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into a court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

Say what?

Forgive them.  Give them the best of you.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.  It’s not enough to be merely polite to the person who betrayed your trust .  It’s more than being “nice” to the parent, the spouse, or friend who wounded you.  These are the cheap knock-offs of what forgiveness was supposed to be.

We unknowingly harbor unforgiveness by withholding ourselves from others.  These are the lines we draw in the sand.  The resentments of our heart whisper words of “I’ll forgive you when you prove that you’ve changed” or “I forgive you but I don’t trust you”.  We withhold our forgiveness and the best of ourselves under the guise of mistrust.

Romans 5:6-8 (The Message)
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Despite all of our wrongs, he gave his best to you and me.  He forgives and then doesn’t stop there but gives us the best of everything he is in Jesus.  How can we give anything less to each other?

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