Yesterday I stumbled and stopped at verse 13.
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."Heard it. Read it. Heard sermons about it. Told my kids about it.
What I read 'for the first time' was 'forgive as the Lord forgave you'. This has always translated into - in my mind - forgive fully, thoroughly, even though it isn't deserved or earned.
Yesterday, though, I began think about exactly how the Lord forgave me. No, not about all the things I have done. About all that HE did.
- He was born into a human form. He had to learn to eat, walk, talk and get along with the people around him (I can't believe that that was any easier 2000 years ago).
- He had to wait in relative obscurity. We don't really know exactly when Jesus had a full grasp on what He was doing here. At age 12 we know HE knew that the temple was His Father's house. Then there are about 18 years of .... we don't know what. I am terrible at keeping secrets. And I would much rather burst out in my half-baked ideas than to wait for a perfect time.
- Important people hated him. From the beginning of his public ministry. As many as He was healing and caring for, there were those who were haters. I squirm at he idea of people not liking me - especially important people.
- His family thought he was a little crazy - at least his brothers did.
- The people that liked him and listened to him - weren't that pretty or put together or bright - at times. They fought for position and notice. They didn't get his 'simple' stories.
- Then there was the brutal (followed by glorious) end of his time on earth.
The story of my being forgiven by Jesus, begins with the agony groans of Mary during childbirth. My forgiveness, my acceptance into His family, is woven into every step of his life.
I could go on about the Jesus story, but that's not entirely what caused me to stumble in my reading. What caused me to stumble was that I AM TO FORGIVE LIKE HE FORGAVE ME. I have certainly grown in being quicker to say I forgive you. And my heart and mind are quicker to follow.
But I am not putting myself out in labor to forgive. I am not working to cover my offenders reputation. I am not going to great lengths and sacrificing myself for the good of my offender. I am not sweating, crying, or putting up with irritating circumstances and people all for the sake of forgiveness.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all about healthy boundaries and healthy relationships. Don't take this like I'm saying "stay in a bad relationship". (Maybe to a fault, but what's a homeschool mom to do? Yeah - that's another blog post or therapy session.)
I'm just saying that I think I still approach forgiveness with the attitude that I can save face and be the right one if I say the right words. The challenge to spend myself for the sake of forgiveness really messes with my paradigm.
If I take this seriously, offense and forgiveness might begin to look more like the beginning of a relationship rather than the closing of a transaction.