She was only seven but she scared me. She reminded me of someone from my childhood who had hurt me deeply. So what did I do? I didn’t trust her. I was too hard on her. Heaven forbid (or at least Cheri forbid) that my child treat me the way this other girl had treated me all those years ago. Truthfully, that didn’t work so well for me. Instead, I wounded my child.
Isn’t it interesting how God can use our children to ferret out deep-buried pain so that we can deal with it? In fact, I believe one of God’s purposes for giving us children is to bring our junk to the surface so He can wash us clean and heal us whole. If we pay attention to our poor reactions, we will probably find past offenses that need forgiving and brokenness that needs restoring.
We may feel we have the right to carry an offense. But what happens when we don’t forgive?
• We hold ourselves captive to the offender. When the offense plays over and over in our minds, does that really feel like freedom? Doesn’t it stir the ick inside, like a witch’s brew?
• We hold a dear one responsible for the someone else’s behavior. Does that sound fair?
• We become a weaker person, lesser mom, and a disobedient child of God.
• We rob ourselves of the joy and freedom found only when we release a person and their offense into God’s hands.
• We make Christ’s death null and void. Oh, yes we do!
Let me ask: is Christ’s death on the cross enough to cover our sin? Then isn’t it enough to cover our offender’s sin? If Christ has forgiven that person and we don’t, then we are living in opposition to all Christ did on the cross.
Which leads to another point. Is Christ’s death enough to cover our sin? You see, that’s what I think unforgiveness is all about. Not the inability—or unwillingness—to forgive others. If we get glaringly honest with ourselves, we’ll find that we have the hardest time forgiving others when we don’t forgive ourselves. Maybe that’s what Matthew 5:16 is about:
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (NIV).
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:3-5 NIV
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
Psalm 103:2-4 NIV