Too Big to Forgive?

We talk glibly about forgiving when we have never been injured; when we are injured, we know that it is not possible, apart from God's grace, for one human being to forgive another. -Oswald Chambers

There are distinct moments in one's life when the path you are traveling forks unexpectedly, and you have to decide which way to go. Someone has hurt you. Will you choose the path of bitterness or forgiveness?

Jim Wilson, in "Spirit of Revival," notes, "Bitterness is based on sin that is somehow relates to you. It is not concerned with how big the sin is; it is based on how close it is. For instance, if some great and gross immorality occurs in Iran, Iraq, El Salvador, or Colombia, what do we do? We read about it, but we will not feel guilty. We read about it, but we will not feel bitter. We might be appalled or amazed, but we do not feel guilty, and we do not feel bitter. Nevertheless, it was an awful sin, and someone actually committed it. So it does not depend on how great the evil is, it depends on how close the other person is to me. Bitterness is related to those people who are close. Who are likely candidates? The answer is simple: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, immediate superiors, immediate subordinates, co-workers, business partners, and maybe some other relatives."

The hardest people to forgive are those closest to me, because when they fail, the hurt is deep. In studying the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Supreme Example of forgiveness, I have been humbled and convicted about my reluctance to forgive.

In the past, when I've read about the crucifixion of Jesus, I've been amazed by His love for me. But recently, a new aspect of the "mind of Christ" was made clear to me. I've always pictured the cold-hearted Roman soldiers to be strangers who carried out the bloody horror of the crucifixion as God the Father allowed them to. But until recently, I never considered how the Lord Jesus felt about each man who took part in His death.

That Roman soldier who is nameless and faceless to me was no stranger to Jesus. Years before, the Lord Jesus chose parents for this baby. He formed his tiny body in his mother's womb. He carefully shaped the hands that would beat him. He had been present in the hour of his birth, witnessing both the pain and the joy of his mother. He watched this baby's first clumsy steps, listened his stuttering words, smiled at his childhood games. He watched him grow and mature. The Lord Jesus lovingly surrounded him with witnesses of Himself, the Creator of All Things: He opened flowers for him to enjoy, cooled him with afternoon showers, painted breathtaking sunsets at the end of the day. "Watch this! This is for you!" He knew his fears, his sorrows, his joys. This man was special to Jesus. In every moment of this man's life, Jesus had been present, longing for a personal relationship. Jesus loved this man more than I love my parents, more than I love my husband, more than I love my child.

Yet this man, who had been showered with love throughout his life, beat Jesus mercilessly, laughed at His agony, and watched Him die with cold, uncaring eyes. Jesus gave only good, and received evil in return. Yet somehow, He drew in a painful breath and cried aloud, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). He prayed for this man's soul. He wanted him to be reconciled with the Father. He wanted his slate wiped clean. He didn't want him to suffer eternal punishment for what he had done. He desired good for this man.

How dare I read about my Lord's suffering, thanking Him for His forgiveness, and fail to do the same! Can I really look Jesus in the eyes and tell Him there's too much to forgive? Can I tell Him my hurt is too great? Can I tell Him I've suffered too much?

The only reaction of a forgiven heart must be forgiveness. If you had asked me a few months ago if I would be able to forgive to this level, I would have firmly replied, "No." And you know, it is true. There is nothing in me that can or even wants to forgive. You may believe the same of yourself, and you'd be right. But what I've discovered is what I can do is irrelevant; what matters is what I allow Him to do through me. It's all Him.

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. -Luke 17:3-4

Note to my readers: I want to personally thank you for continuing to read my blog over the past few months, even as we've had to return from the field to rebuild. I didn't see this coming, but the Lord did, and He's in control. The past few blogs haven't been typical, and I've had to stray from my "Real Missions" theme as I'm back in the States. But there's a lot more "Real Life" now, as I've shared how the Lord is working in my heart. Thank you for praying for our family and staying in touch. -christine-
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