Forgiveness is an essential part of the gospel message

I seem to be slow to learn many of the important things in life. Or maybe, it is just that I am willing to admit my puzzlement! I am finally beginning to realise why Jesus makes such a big deal about forgiveness in the gospels. If we understand forgiveness to be an act of will, or mental choice to view a particular act differently, we won’t get it.

Forgiveness requires that I am able to see the humanity of the other. It requires that I am able to recognise that this person who has done me harm (intentionally or not!) is a wounded person: A person operating out of patterns of behaviour which are deeply etched on their psyche. Not one of us manages to escape childhood without at least a few scars. We carry unconscious desires and needs with us and shape our experience far more than we realise. Occasionally we are confronted with someone else’s stuff and those are the moments which lead to pain.

All too often we attribute the pain we have experienced to the other person, as though they intended the full extent of the pain of our experience. This is rarely the case. Most of us are far too unaware of what is happening in the experience of anyone else to be able to intentionally cause such destruction. Mostly, when we do lash out at another, it because they have failed us in some way – although often we do not even quite understand exactly why it is that we feel that we have been failed.

So, when we are the ones who are wounded, it is only when we recognise the wounded vulnerability of the other that we can begin to forgive. It is only when we can see that their actions were bound by a story far greater than the simply the interaction we have had do we begin to feel a sense of relief.

It is only when we are able to see the humanity of the other that we can begin to truly love. It is only in seeing the other as a mixed bag of giftedness and brokenness that we begin to experience compassion.

If the message of the gospel is about loving God and loving one’s neighbour, then the capacity to forgive is useful measure. Forgiveness is not an act of will. Forgiveness is the capacity to see the other as a human being.

It does not require that I try to ignore my own woundedness and continue to embrace the other despite the obvious destructiveness of our interaction. Sometimes the best we can do is to walk away.

7 thoughts on “Forgiveness is an essential part of the gospel message

  1. Just read the post on Forgiveness and found it outstandingly refreshing. I feel humbled to be on the receiving end of your prophetic voice.

  2. Wonderful thoughts on forgiveness there Mags so thank you for sharing of yourself. For years I struggled over the issue of forgiving the man who abused me. I wanted to and prayed to the Lord that I did forgive him but I still feared and in many ways haed him too. But one day during thise years he injured himself while in a rage with me and I suddenly felt pity for him and waned to help him. A Mags said, maybe a sudden glimpse into his brokenness rather than just seeing my own. The pity feelings did not last but I believe theybdid bear fruit because when he died 2 years ago and I wat the funeral I suddenly knew that I wanted him to have found the love of God before he died. I was amazed that this wmy genuine reaction. Amazing grace of the Lord to work His forgiveness in my heart. So I agree that it is not an act of will, however there is a sense in which we do need to make ongoing choices to be willing to see the broken humanity of the person who has hurt us, to be willing to focus on Jesus rather than on our own pain and right for vengeance. We cannot will ourselves into forgiveness because it is a gift that only He who has forgiven can truly enable us to use, but to get to that point of desiring, perceiving and understanding does take will and choice often over and over or like as Jesus said, 70 x 7. He gives us the revelation of the other’s brokenness and works the miracle of compassion in our hearts while we choose again and again to lay our sheer inability in His hands and look to Him to help us.

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  3. i thank God everday that I haven’t had to fogirve anything hard i know that one day that might change i pray i have the same strength to fogirve just like Jesus forgave me.

  4. Thank you foor sharing this , I think ts very important for all of us to understtand why its so essential to forgive . Forgives Us free , from the pain theat someone/ something has cause, that forgiveness helis very important in terms of growing with God ! That’s the beauty of it, you let one thing go and anothher comes in to bring us peace, healing, acceptance to love. 🙂

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