Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Forgiveness

Here are two videos on forgiveness that I found helpful. Lewis Smedes and Miroslav Volf have both written extensively on the subject of forgiveness. I would recommend any of their books if you are studying the subject for yourself, or teaching on forgiveness. Smedes is a bit more practical, whereas Volf is more theological. I think Volf has a better grasp of the subject, but Smedes can be helpful in conveying how to forgive in some practical ways.

This video reminds us that sometimes forgiveness has more to do with us, than with the one who has offended us. Sometimes we are more hurt because our pride has been wounded, and not because of the offense itself. Smedes recognized this in himself when he had a falling out with his son. He also reminds us at the end of the video that when we forgive we are releasing a prisoner, and most often that prisoner is our self.

Miroslav Volf delves deeper into the subject of forgiveness. He begins by reminding us that Christian forgiveness is unconditional. We are to forgive as Jesus forgave us. We do not have to wait for an apology or for someone to repent in order to forgive. Volf quickly points out that the offender must repent and apologize if they are going to receive the blessings of forgiveness, but our forgiveness is not predicated on their apology or repentance. Volf also points out the difficulty of forgiveness. The words of forgiveness can roll off the tongue easily, but carrying out forgiveness is an entirely different matter. Carrying out forgiveness is difficult and takes time.

Volf often goes deeper than Smedes and others who write on the practicality of forgiveness. A good example of this is when he discusses the purpose of forgiveness. Many people will focus on the guilt of the offender and the psychological benefits that take place when we forgive, but Volf calls us to a higher purpose. When we forgive we can return the person to the good. The example he gives is when his father forgave a soldier who was involved in the death of his son. The soldier acted irresponsibly and could have been punished by the courts, but Volf’s father thought this would ruin two lives instead of just one. In Volf’s book Free of Charge he gives his father’s reasoning as, “Why should one more mother be plunged into grief, this time because the life of her son, a good boy but careless in a crucial moment, was ruined by the hands of justice.” Because of his father’s forgiveness he returned the soldier back to the good. The soldier was extremely remorseful and distraught about what had happened, and Volf’s father saw no reason in sending him to prison and possibly ruining his life. When we forgive we have the opportunity to return a person to the good, to set them back on the right track.

Finally, Volf informs us that forgiveness is a practice. I think one mistake Christians have made when it comes to forgiveness is that we believe it is a single act. We think that if we say the magical words, “I forgive” then all is well. This is not so. Volf is correct to point out that forgiveness is a practice rather than an act. It is something we should walk in and live by. The process of forgiveness can be lengthy and difficult, and if we think of it as an act we may consider ourselves failures and might give up on forgiveness all together. We need to understand that forgiveness takes time and it is not always easy. Sometimes we will forgive a person only to wake up with feelings of hatred towards them a week later. When this happens we need to forgive again. We do not have to forgive them personally when this happens, nor should we tell them about all the feelings we are having after we have forgiven, but we need to forgive because we haven’t completed the process. Forgiving is a practice that we all need to be committed to.

Advertisements

No Responses to “Forgiveness”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: