Misunderstood Forgiveness

Marriage is like these fishermen, teamwork built from years of working together.  What do you do when your partner decides to move on?  What if they do it in the most hurtful way possible?  What if your child uses drugs and steals from and endangers you?  There are many other scenarios that leave us angry and hateful.  Are we just supposed to forgive as the Church tells us?  I went through such a situation and struggled with forgiving.

Then I decided to research forgiveness and was startled at how wrong we have it.  We are supposed to forgive as Christ forgave us.  How did He do it?  He loved us.  He suffered for us. Then He died for us to purchase our pardon and offered it to us freely.  Yet, we remained unforgiven until we repented.  Peter asked Jesus how often we must forgive.  Jesus said as often as he came and repented, even 70 times 7.  My pastor had gotten it wrong.  I didn’t have to forgive.  Then I wondered, if I don’t forgive until they repent, do I still hate?

Hate would eat me up, I knew that.  One man I knew had a child with his wife, but within a few months, his wife filed for divorce and court ordered separation.  Many years later, he still hadn’t moved on, but dwelt in pain.  As I studied the passages, I realized that I had to release the hate and move on.  Not only that, I had to love the person and hold out the offer of willingness to forgive.  Still, because the person had not repented, they were still capable of hurting again.  This allows one to maintain a protective distance until the person repents.  God never asks us to forgive the unrepentant, but does tell us to love, even our enemies.

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