Sunday, November 3, 2013
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ― Mark Twain
Don Henley of the "Eagles" sings a song about how he discovered that the key to just about everything is forgiveness--which is the name of the song. For Christians, forgiveness is not an option, not just a nice thing to do if we can. It is a commandment and Christ told us in no uncertain terms that unless we forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6: 15). He also told us to love our neighbors as ourselves which is difficult for us to do. Not because we can't love others, but because we don't love ourselves. And the primary reason we don't love ourselves is that we cannot forgive ourselves for what we see as the stains on our soul. First, we must forgive ourselves because Jesus Christ came to save sinners then and now. No one is beyond His help and forgiveness. His love is a constant call to repent and come to Him. The trick is to forgive ourselves, so we can forgive others, love others, and accept the call of Christ and accept His love. I used to counsel the recently divorced who were having a hard time adjusting to their new lives. Rule number one was to forgive themselves for whatever they thought they had done to destroy the marriage. Rule number two was to forgive their spouse for whatever they thought he/she had done to destroy the marriage. Rule three was to pray for that spouse. Simple enough, just three rules, but those who followed them would come back to me over and over again to tell me they had been freed from the prison in which they had locked themselves. William Blake, in his poem "London" talks of the "mind-forged manacles" that we wear. So often, we think we are unworthy of love, unworthy of respect, and cage ourselves into a prison of self-hate and non-forgiveness of which we only have the key. We have to forgive ourselves and forgive those who hurt us if we are ever to be free. We cannot truly serve God if we are dragging our past sins behind us. Imagine our past sins as old car batteries tied together. Now, imagine having to walk and work dragging that huge chain of old car batteries everywhere we go. We and we alone can cut the chain to those batteries by forgiving ourselves and asking forgiveness from Christ and then forgiving others. If you want to be free, truly free, you must accept Christ's love (of course no one can be worthy of that love--that's the whole reason Christ came--to show us that He loves us no matter what). When you are free of your chain of car batteries you've been dragging around, you can be very useful to Christ, to expand His kingdom, to bring others into the light you have received. There is no need for you to live in self-imposed darkness when you can walk into the light, but we have lived in our darkness so long, it seems almost comfortable. Let go. Let the light come in so that the light can shine out through you. Forgive yourself, accept the forgiveness of Christ, and forgive others so you can be free and work and live with a clean heart. Christ is waiting for you, wanting you to accept Him, but you must invite Him in. He will not force Himself upon you. As Don Henley figured out--it's about forgiveness.