“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. -Luke 6:37 (NIV)
As a Christian, I know the drill. I should forgive others as God has forgiven me. It should be an easy thing to do, one would think, when I reflect on the things I have done in my life and the number of times I probably disappointed my Lord. However, it is often not so easy for me to accomplish when my flesh cries out for revenge against someone who has hurt me. Granted, it happens less frequently these days and is shorter-lived, but it is always an area in which to be on guard. I was reminded of that last night.
I have difficulty loving my stepson. In all honesty, I have difficulty even tolerating him. In seems like every time I try and put forth “the olive branch” or do some favor, he does something to betray and disrespect his mom and me. He has done foolish things and reacted in anger when confronted, saying some really bad stuff without ever acknowledging or showing [even fake] remorse. There is no point in going into details, other than to say that a lot of his behavior is not all that different from mine around his age. In fact, it’s probably not any worse.
Sometimes, for no immediate or apparent reason, I will start thinking about him ‘out of the blue’– then anger and lack of forgiveness well up inside of me. Talking about it to my wife only hurts her, because she knows what he’s like– but she is, after all, his mother. So I often bottle it up and pretend everything is great in my picture-perfect Christian life (sarcasm injected). (I should insert into this conversation the fact that much of what I am angry about happened months ago). When new behaviors by him triggers reaction from me, this stuff (which I thought I had dealt with and worked through) just comes roaring right back. I’m sure I can dig back into the recesses of my aging mind and come up with other examples if I put any amount of effort into it. As these things come up, there is really only one solution: prayer. I find myself convicted by the Holy Spirit when I start to go down the resentment path. Please note I said convicted, not condemned. Because my Father is a God of abundant grace, He gives me the opportunity to do something about this and be able to sincerely forgive.
By the way, forgiving does not mean forgetting. For years I was taught the to forgive means to forget. It does not. Forgetting is often impossible and also unwise– but that’s a subject for another post.
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32 (AMP)