Sunday, August 11, 2013

Forgiving from the heart

white roseBy Charlotte Lowrie

One of the commands that the Lord gave us was to forgive. Forgiving is almost as important as loving; and, in fact, they are inextricably intertwined. Jesus talked about forgiving completely--from the heart. He said that no matter how many times a person sins against us, we are to keep forgiving them. 

Forgiveness is so important that Jesus said if we don't forgive others, then the Father will not forgive us even in light of the price that the Lord paid to redeem us.

But sometimes forgiving others is really hard. When we find out someone has done something wrong to us, our immediate instinct is to get even, to get retribution--and it is a strong drive. As a case in point, I recently learned that a company I've contracted with for many years violated not only a written promise, but they also violated the terms of our contract. In short, they gave my work to another person to use as his own, and he used it. I was shocked and angry.

I'm currently talking to the company, and certainly I have the option of taking legal action. The company clearly wronged me in more ways than one. Thoughts about what they did dominated my thinking for several days. My righteous indignation seemed so well deserved. Still, if I want to be forgiven for my ongoing sins, then I had to forgive them in exactly the same way and to the same degree that I wanted to be forgiven. I had to rethink my indignation.

I thought about Jesus as he hung on the cross. I imagine Him looking out over the crowd to see people he had taught only days earlier at the temple. Maybe He could pick out faces he'd seen as he taught the beatitudes. And when he hung his head, I believe that He also saw all the people who lived in the past and all the people who would live in the future. The aggregate of humanity--all sinners, all needing forgiveness. It was His responsibility to bear the crushing weight of all sin--from the beginning of time to the end.  

Yet, the Lord forgave them all. I'm convinced that Jesus saw all those people through the eyes of divine love that saw far beyond the sins that each person committed. He saw with eyes of love that look into eternity. I believe that He looked at each spirit--seeing us as God created each one of us. Jesus did not overlook sins. Rather, He looked at our sin and beyond. Through His eyes of love, His love for us transcended the price that He had to pay for what we'd done. 

In short, Jesus knew that "The victory was greater than the pain."

The next time you have trouble forgiving someone, remember to look with eyes of love--with eyes that see the sin and beyond--into eternity.