DayBreaks for 8/23/18 – The Cost of Unforgiveness

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DayBreaks for 8/23/18: The Cost of Unforgiveness

(Sorry for the missing DayBreaks yesterday. I got caught at night in a major traffic jam and didn’t get home until about midnight!)

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

When you think of forgiveness, what do you think of?  Do you think of your forgiveness by God?  If so, you probably think about the cost of your forgiveness, about how many times He has, because of Jesus, forgiven you.  Or perhaps, instead of God’s forgiveness towards you, you think about forgiveness from other people, or how you have had to forgive someone else. 

Maybe right now you are struggling with being able to forgive someone for something they have done for you.  In his commentary on the Letter to Hebrews, William Barclay made these observations about forgiveness: “There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts.  The principle is: forgiveness is a costly thing.  Human forgiveness is costly.  A son or a daughter may go wrong – a father or mother may forgive – but that forgiveness has brought tears.  There was a price of a broken heart to pay.  Divine forgiveness is costly.  God is love, but God is holiness.  God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built.  Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates.  And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven.  Forgiveness is never a case of saying: ‘It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.’  Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.”

It is costly to forgive someone else.  You have to give up your “right” to be angry.  You have to give up your “right” to get even – for revenge and to hurt them in return.  You may even have to give up your attitude of being superior because you were the injured party and you know that you would never have done something so terrible to anyone – ever. 

But think about the cost of not forgiving.  You get eaten alive by your anger, hatred and bitterness.  You can’t sleep because your mind is running at full speed about how wronged you were.  Your waking moments are consumed with thoughts of how to get even – how to hurt them like they’ve hurt you.  But worst of all, if we don’t forgive, we are in danger of being unforgiven ourselves: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matt. 6:14-15)

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I agree with William Barclay.  After you weigh the evidence, it seems to me that forgiveness may be the second most costly thing in the world.  Failure to forgive may be even costlier!

PRAYER:  Father, give us hearts that are quick to forgive, not only for those things we’ve done which are wrong, but for those who have wronged us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 6/08/17 – Non-remembrance of Things Suffered

DayBreaks for 6/08/17: Non-Remembrance of Things Suffered

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

We wrestle with various problems related to forgiveness.  The willingness to forgive is the first one.  Sure, we know what Scripture says about forgiveness: that we must forgive because we’ve been forgiven, that our forgiveness is to be “70 x 7” (meaning without number).  Yet we hold our hurts close to our hearts, cooing over them, turning them first one way and then another to dissect the wound from every possible direction – while all the time letting the pain build and fester like a pus-filled wound.  We actually nurture our hurts when we do this.

But inevitably, when you get right down to it, we all know we are supposed to forgive.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had Christians say to me, “I know I have to forgive them,” (strange how that’s always still in the future tense, isn’t it?) “but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about it!”  I think they’re wrong.  Seriously wrong. 

I understand that as humans, God didn’t seem to give us the ability to literally block out a part of our brain and the memories it contains.  (Although, I’m not sure about that – repressed memory seems to be possible, indicating that it is a capability that does exists at least to some extent in the human brain.)  Scripture says that when God forgives, He forgets and will not hold those things against us any more, than He throws our sin into the deepest sea.  To the Jewish mind, that meant that they literally became invisible, for in that day and age, no one could travel to the bottom of the sea to see what lay there. 

Miroslav Volf, a brilliant Christian philosopher and theologian, was driven from his former home in Croatia (the former Yugoslavia) some time back after being arrested for being a Christian under the hostile regime that was there at the time.  He witnessed and suffered horrible things.  He is now the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He is a man who knows a lot about wrongs suffered and how to deal with them.  Here’s what he wrote in his book, The End of Memory: “But that is exactly what forgiveness does! For herein lies the essence of Christian forgiveness: On account of his divinity, Christ could and did shoulder the consequences of human sin; so the penalty for wrongdoing can be detached from wrongdoers. And since on account of his humanity Christ could and did die on behalf of sinners, they, in effect, died when he died; so guilt can be detached from wrongdoers. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we make our own God’s miracle of forgiveness. Echoing God’s unfathomable graciousness, we decouple the deed from the doer, the offense from the offender. We blot out the offense so it no longer mars the offender. That is why the non-remembrance of wrongs suffered appropriately crowns forgiveness.”

He continues with this line of thinking: “When can we forget the wrongs committed against us?  In a sense, forgetting is given to us as the gift of a healed relationship.  It’s a gift of the new world, which God gives us.  Then we can not remember.  And then our experience is like a person who is sitting in a concert hall and listening to a wonderful piece of music.  Even though just two hours ago she was experiencing hell at her job, she’s taken up into that music.  It’s not that she tried to forget so that she could be in the music; it’s that the music took her out of the remembrance of the past.  God gives us the gift of a healed self, healed relationships, and a reconstituted world, and then we can not remember.”

I pray that we will learn to let the music of the concert of God’s love and forgiveness create that new world in our hearts so that we can no longer remember that which we’ve forgiven and endured.

PRAYER: Father, cleanse our hearts from the hurts we harbor, the forgiveness we fail to extend, the pain we refuse to release.  Instead, fill them with the music of Divinity on high that echoes the very forgiveness and forgetting that characterizes Your own heart.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/07/15 – Forgiveness or Atrocity?

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DayBreaks for 8/07/15: Forgiveness or Atrocity?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

As with most things in life, we have choices to make.  We can choose friends, choose careers, choose a spouse, choose what to eat and where to live.  But it’s interesting that when it comes to handling our emotions and how we react to things, we seem to find it very hard to make the right choices some times.  We seem to find it nearly impossible to love our enemies or to fight certain temptations.  And perhaps the most common complaint about emotional sin is the one that says, “I just can’t forgive So-and-so for what they did.”

And so, unforgiveness reigns in the heart of much of the world.  It’s why the Palestinians and Israelis continue to hate and spiral downward in ever-increasing violence and anger.  It’s why the Sunnis and Shiites can’t get along.  It’s why the Pakistanis and Indians don’t like one another, or the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.  The essayist Lance Morrow, in observing this human tendency, hit it on the head when he noted that when unforgiveness reigns, a Newtonian-like law comes into play: “For every atrocity there must be an equal and opposite atrocity.”  Theologian Romano Guardini offered this as a diagnosis of the problem of revenge: “As long as you are tangled in the wrong and revenge, blow and counterblow, aggression and defense, you will be constantly drawn into fresh wrong…Only forgiveness frees us from the injustices of others.”  And perhaps no one better described the outcome of unforgiveness and revenge better than Gandhi, who observed that if everyone followed the “eye for an eye” rule, eventually the whole world would go blind.

Someone needs to stop the cycle of viciousness that lives in the hearts of humanity.  Perhaps we are right when we say that we can’t forgive someone.  Perhaps it takes the Spirit living in us for us to be able to forgive those who have mistreated or hurt us or those we love.  Whatever it takes, we need to find the strength to stop the bitterness that keeps pouring gasoline on the fire of unforgiveness and which demands an ever greater sacrifice to satisfy our desire for revenge.

Revenge is a hungry monster that is never sated.  That’s why it must be killed.  How much room are you giving revenge in your heart?  Who do you need to forgive so that you can be like your Father in heaven?

PRAYER: Keep us from deluding ourselves into thinking we have forgiven when perhaps all we have done is avoided the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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