But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. — 1 John 2:11 —
Without going into detail, I can tell you I know what it feels like to hate. To hate in such a manner where if that loved one (note: I said loved one) died and went to hell, would have left me apathetic and uncaring. I can say honestly, and God knows, I had never in my life hated so much and so deeply. I did not think it was even possible until certain circumstances began to develop in my private life a few years back. To even think on where I once was, brings not only a chill to my soul, but deep remourse.
I had been wronged, misunderstood. Barely had I time to deal with one attack, when another would come. I became angry, wanting to defend myself, wanting to show my accusers where they were wrong, desiring to fight back. I became more hardened than I ever have in my whole life. It is to my shame that I confess, I reached a point where I just shut down. Shutting down everything in me that would have allowed me to care for my loved ones. Shutting down any concerns I may have had previously for them. Everything good was shut out and everything bad, was shut in. I had no mercy, I had nothing but disdain and a desire to see them get what they deserved.
The following words, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. — Matthew 6:14,15 — put a terrible dread in me. I knew I had trespassed against God’s Word in allowing myself, in choosing to defy His Word. But I did not know how to forgive. Worse than that, I did not want to.
I took a sense of pride over the years that I was the eldest. As if that position alone made me any more special than my siblings. I had not seen this pride as sin until all hell began to break lose in my soul. I had tried to the best of my abilities to walk in peace but that peace began to become unglued when our mother died. I made it worse by not responding appropriately towards certain events. Being the Christian who is suppose to know how to act during such times and did not, I take full blame and responsibility for things getting out of control. I should have known better. I should have been the one who should have been able to see Satan at work in our midst trying to destroy our family. But I did not. I came to the conclusion, most of the damage and the breach was being caused by me! By not forgiving, by not caring, by shutting down, by holding grudges in ways in hopes that would bring them to repentence. Not able to see that I needed to repent.
How foolish was I! Many times the words of Peter came to me over and over, “But Lord what about this one?” Jesus more or less told him to mind his own buisness when He said to him, “…what is it to you? You follow Me.”
I really did not know what that looked like. Did it mean that I just passively submit to everything being done? Did it mean I shut my mouth for the sake of a fake peace? The kind of peace that would have led others to believe all is well, when it is not? A peace to me that would have been compromise.
I had been taught over the years that our forgiveness of others was to “make us feel better.” I never bought that. If God is completely UNselfish, then if we Christians who have HIS Spirit in us, should we not too be just as UNselfish? Somehow me forgiving others just to make myself feel better, did not make sense to me. Isn’t it selfish to do anything in hopes of getting something in return? I think so. It is just as selfish to forgive in hopes that it will make us feel better.
A few times over the course of the past couple years when I realized my soul was in prison and I wanted out, I cried out selfishly, “God help me forgive!” But, it never happened. When that didn’t work, I wanted to know WHY I should forgive in the first place. Was it just because God laid some kind of passive condition upon His people? Something that was suppose to make us look good, somehow better than others? If that was the case, I didn’t want it. I didn’t find forgiveness worth my while if it meant it was just to make me feel better. I saw it as selfish and a type of passivity. Not only that, what about when the feel-good feelings for myself ran out, then what? I would have to go around the same old mountain trying to forgive just so I could feel good again! I may as well be a little hamster in one of those little running wheels hoping to reach my destination!
When I began to get my eyes off those who hurt me, it was then that I saw, that I too had wronged others. I was not without blame. For the longest time, I tried to justify it within myself: I had reasons not to forgive, I told myself. God You are suppose to be my defender, where were You? You didn’t defend me, so I had to do it myself. What more can You expect? You expect me to roll over and play dead? Uh uh, ain’t happening, Lord.
One thing I know about God is, you can be real with Him. He knows anyway, so you may as well just be open and honest with Him about everything.
After a few years of me hanging on to my trying to justify myself, God in His mercy began to get through to me. I’m almost certain it would not normally have taken Him years, IF I had been willing. Before I could begin to forgive, He showed me I needed forgiveness from Him for the way I had handled things. I had brought reproach to His truth, to His love, to His kindness, to His mercy. There was no way to get around it. The words of my Lord came to me and said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” All I knew, is compared to Jesus, I looked and acted nothing like Him. There is no way He would have acted the way I did.
I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. — 1 John 2:12 —
Forgiveness is NOT about us forgiving so we can feel better. Just as we have been forgiven for His name’s sake, we are to forgive others for the very same reason.
My question is, do we love Jesus enough, that we do what we do for nothing more than for His sake? Is He alone not worthy? Does He not deserve to have that which He suffered for? If He could die a horrible gruesome death and rise from the dead for the likes of one such as I, how much more is He worthy to have the very lives of those who He has put into my life? Who am I not to to extend forgiveness to others when He has forgiven me of so much? Forgiveness is an act of reconciliation between God and man. He desires the souls of man to know that forgiveness through His Son. Let us not be a stumbling block to that by not allowing His forgiveness to flow through us freely.