A woman went to her pastor for advice on improving her marriage. When the pastor asked what her greatest complaint was, she replied, "Everytime we get into a fight, my husband gets historical." When her pastor said "you must mean hysterical," she responded, "I mean exactly whatI said; he keeps a mental record of everything I've done wrong and whenever hes mad, I get a history lesson!"
Tragically, this scenario is all too common. Having never learned the true meangings of forgiveness, many people keep a record of the wrongs of others and bring them up again and again. This pattern destroys their relationships and deprives them of the peace and freedom that come through genuine forgiveness.
To forgive someone means to release him or her from liability to suffer punishment of penalty. Apheime, a Greece work that is often translated as "forgive" means to let go, release, or remit. It often refers to debts that have been paid or cancelled in full. Charizomai, another word for forgive, means to bestow favor freely or unconditionally. This word shows that forgiveness is underserved and cannot be earned.
-Excerpt from The Peace Maker by Ken Sande.
I've been in the process of reading this book for a few months now, its one of those books that is great, but since I have no deadline to read it, a few other required reads have come first. I definitely recommend it to anyone who has ever dealt with a conflict of some sort (uhh, so everyone?). It provides a practical, gospel centered guide to forgiveness and conflict resolution in many situations.
I never thought that I struggled with unforgiveness until recently when hard conflict arose, and both parties- myself and another, were dealing with things poorly. Being previously apt to "forgive and forget" or so I thought, I realized that I wasnt really stepping up to the extent that as a christian we are called to do, and it was throwing a wrench into the peace and freedom that I should be living in. I thought I had forgiven people, but at the same time I hadnt quite let them off the hook, not releasing them from the punishment I thought they should endure. Maybe both parties had aimed at forgiveness, but there was still that awkward and slightly bitter interaction, and almost complete and ridiculous avoidance to be around each other.
We were both acting "historical" so to speak.
My good old Strongs Condordance has a list of sysnonyms for forgiveness including: blotting out, remission, pardon, remember no more, healed. The Lord's Prayer says "forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Luke says even if someone wrongs us 70 times 7, we have to forgive them. We must forgive because God has forgiven us, and nothing that people do to us even compares the offense that we have done against God. Someone recently recounted the beauty of forgiveness, and was thankful that God did not say to us, "You know I forgive you, but I just cant be around you anymore." A phrase that Im sure we have all said or thought at one point about another person after they have wronged us in a painful way. But God says "I forgive you, your offense is thrown into the sea, I dont even remember it any longer, now come and let me welcome you back into my arms, lets have full fellowship."
Thats what I need to strive to. Instead of being hurt, and then just going on my very way, completely avoiding the other person, even though I have "forgiven" them, I need to strive to let it go and welcome them back into fellowship with open arms. If they want to deny that reconciliation, well, that is their agenda, but by letting go and truly letting them off the hook, I have gained back freedom on my side and I can live with peace that I have done the right thing before God.
I am so thankful that God does not treat me how I deserve to be treated, or how I treat other people. He is gracious and compassionate, a good God who forgives, and a God who gives us this supernatural strength to forgive.