A really good song by Lecrae, discussed further in my entry.
Well, those of you who’ve been paying attention would’ve noticed that the journal entry for yesterday is missing. That was the result of two thirds of the above title. XP This whole week (and the past one) I’ve got about an average of five hours of sleep every day, including the weekend. This has, as a result, made me forgetful and tired, and so I completely forgot about the journal yesterday. However, here it is, and this week I feel like talking about a few verses I read this morning in my devotions.
Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
This verse struck me really hard because as Christian youth we are literally in the middle of a “crooked and twisted generation”. Thus it is essential for us to “shine as lights in the world”. Living in America where persecution on the basis of religion is minimal in comparison to elsewhere, it can get easy to become complacent. That is, however, when you are most easily attacked, and with complacency comes “grumbling and disputing” when hardship arises. But as Philippians 2 tells us, that should not be so. We have so much to be grateful for. As discussed in Lecrae’s song that I’ve attached to this post, we are really the lucky ones, and have nothing to complain about. The key is holding fast to God’s Word. Really, if you stay bathed in prayer, Christian fellowship, and God’s Word, you can’t go wrong. The big problem is that all too often in my own life, one or more of those are lacking.
And now we come to the final third of my post, or title. I can’t tell if this is the final third (it isn’t XP) since I haven’t finished writing yet. But, anyway, I was just reading Proverbs today, and 17:9 says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” That got me thinking. It’s pretty obvious that what the author is talking about here is forgiveness, and he gives a very practical reason as to why one should forgive (Proverbs is full of great practical advice by the way). However, I started thinking about what exactly forgiveness entails.
All throughout the Bible forgiveness is talked about. We’re told in Matthew 6:15 that “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” And further on, in Matthew 18, Jesus tells us to forgive not “seven times” but as many as “seventy-seven times”, and that does not mean literally forgive someone seventy-seven times and then quit forgiving. Jesus was demonstrating that forgiveness should be unlimited. But, we come back to my original question. What in the world does forgiveness really mean? Does it mean do your best to forget about whatever offense has been committed and that’s it?
No. Absolutely not. Dumbing down what you perceive as an offense that someone has committed against you is the worst possible thing. That’s not forgiving, that’s bottling it in to fester and grow bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is not about that. What then is forgiveness? Well, first let me explain the product of forgiveness. When you’ve truly forgiven someone, you no longer harbor negative emotions towards them. There are no misunderstandings, and whatever it was that caused the fissure to begin with is resolved. Reading Proverbs 17:9 may make it sound like “cover[ing] an offense” is the way to go, but don’t be confused there. “Covering” in that context does not involve locking it away. It means that you have achieved a peace that allows you to let it go, to allow it to dissipate, so you don’t have to bring it up and mention it ever again.
On the other hand, the opposite of forgiveness has drastic results. As Proverbs tells us, lack of forgiveness can separate close friends. Believe it or not, no matter how close you are to someone, sooner or later they’re going to do or say something that hurts. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding, sometimes it’s done in a fit of anger, most of the time it is regretted. Don’t let these things just slide by and hide them with all the other offenses that you’ve gathered, because someday you’re going to bring it up again, and there will be a lot of pain and bitterness with it, and that will drive a wedge with maximum force between you and the other person involved. Instead, resolve the situation. Talk it over. It may be awkward or uncomfortable at first, painful even, but if you can resolve it and come to peace about the matter, then you can have true forgiveness.