Recently I had a discussion with my brother about forgiveness. It began with his question, “Whatever happened to people forgiving one another instead of always being offended?”
The dictionary defines ‘forgive’ as the ability to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake; to cease to feel resentment against. Within that definition is the word ‘offense’ or the annoyance and resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for one’s standards or principles. These definitions of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘offense’ make the question even more intriguing.
What happened that people can’t stop feeling anger or resentment toward others and so continue to embrace perceived insults for their standards or principles?
The answer to that question is simple and complex. It begins with our culture’s loss of belief in God, loss of their identity as a human being created by Him, and loss of humility before Him. Arrogance stands in direct opposition to Him and is the seed of fruit eaten in the garden.
Years ago I read a book entitled, Out on a Broken Limb by Shirley McLaine. This woman has no fear of God, but believes herself to be God. There was a little description of her standing on the shore of the ocean punching her fists in the air screaming at the top of her lungs, “I AM GOD!” over and over confirming her stance in the presence of the Almighty that She. Is. God. Yet, in the ears of the Creator of the Universe, her voice sounds like a mere ant standing on a minute grain of sand. He could barely hear her tiny high-pitched squeal and laughed at her arrogance. Such arrogance breeds offense and not forgiveness.
Yeshua taught in “The Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.”
Yet, arrogance never allows for personal wrongdoing. Arrogance judges others as the wrong doers and therefore responds with ‘offense’ and ‘unforgiveness.’ This arrogant attitude destroys personal relationships in families between parents and children, husbands and wives in marriages, friendships, and even church fellowships. Forgiveness is an act of humility and “if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours” (Matthew 6:12, 15; Colossians 3:13).
We live in a culture that believes a heavenly Father no longer exists in the world of His creation. So, who cares if He forgives us or not? We are ‘little gods’ and create Him in our image just like Shirley McClaine standing on the beach. We should care because without ‘forgiveness’ we will continue to live in a culture of ‘offense’ that will escalate in strife, anger, bitterness, and ultimately murder while we wonder what is happening in the world.
“Love covers a multitude of sins [offenses]” (1 Peter 4:8).
Love. Social media is filled with memes about love. Love is constantly preached in our culture, but it is not a Biblical love ; it’s a Beatles humanistic love that makes the individual the center of the universe. It is a deceptive love that promotes tolerance, but never forbears. This love is not the authentic, unconditional love that each human soul truly seeks. In fact, it appears to be false love that promotes dissension and division between individuals and groups of people.
First Corinthians 13, defines authentic sacrificial love and says keeping a record of wrongs is not love and neither is being easily angered, rude or selfish. The greatest kindness we can give to one another is to bear with one another and not keep a record of the offenses allowing anger to build until there is an explosion.
According to the definition of ‘offense’, it is ‘perceived’ and not necessarily something real. It is something the mind embraces until it takes over the entire thought process and defines who the person is. God did not create humanity to be defined by a political view or moral issue.
Forgiving an ‘offense’ is a choice. ‘Forgiveness’ is the willful act of covering over the ‘offenses’ of another. This is not the same as giving a thumbs-up to their ‘offense.’ This type of ‘forgiveness’ brings restoration to divisions, civil unrest, and broken relationships. ‘Forgiveness’ brings peace, joy, and hope back into the world.
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