Monday, October 25, 2010

The Unmerciful Servant

I've been thinking alot about resentment, bitterness, and hatred today. Writing often helps me sort through my thoughts. I welcome any commentary on this subject.

Last year, about this time, I was really wrestling with forgiving someone. It was a new struggle for me. For whatever reason, in my life, I've not had trouble letting things go or forgiving people (for the most part). Maybe it's because I have a tendency to forget why I'm supposed to be angry, or maybe I've just been fortunate to not have too many situations where forgiveness has been difficult. But, whatever the case, I found myself in a new arena for me - wrestling to forgive.

As a believer in Christ and one who believes the Bible is the ultimate authority on how I should live my life, I knew that hating someone and choosing not to forgive was wrong. But, truthfully, I didn't want to let go and forgive. And, so I wrestled.

I made my way to the scriptures (after some wise counsel from friends) and started to see what the Lord had to say about forgiveness. Here's a link to the verses I read:

As much as Matthew 6:14-15 shook me, ("In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part"), it was the story of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35 that truly broke my heart.

I can't get past it. I can't ignore it. The Truth is painted so clearly there for me.

After all I've been forgiven, who am I to hold a grudge against someone else? After all the grace that has been shown to me, who am I to withhold grace from another? Who am I? Or, more rightly said, who do I think I am?

In talking about this with a friend a couple of weeks ago, a scene from the movie "Fireproof" came to my mind. I jumped over to YouTube to see if I could find it. And, there it was. Please take the time to watch this:

It never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The picture painted there is so clear. How can I keep loving someone who rejects me over and over? Christ does it for me. I fail Him all of the time. I can't possibly live up to His standards on my own power. I break His heart all of the time and yet He forgives me, He loves me, He extends grace to me, and He welcomes me back into His arms.

The father in that scene says to his son, "I love you too much not to tell you the truth". I wish we loved each other that well all of the time. I wish we received loved that well all of the time. The truth is that loving someone means being honest with them even when it's tough and when they don't want to hear it. Loving someone means forgiving and erasing the debt as if it were never there. Loving someone means letting go of past offenses.

I am reminded of a story told by Corrie Ten Boom regarding forgiveness. Ten Boom and her family were instrumental in helping Jews escape Holland during World War II. She shares her story in the book, "The Hiding Place". After her release from a German concentration camp, she began sharing her story and the love of Jesus. After preaching one night on how God forgives and we should as well, she stood face to face with one of the soldiers who had tortured her. She had to put into practice what she had been preaching. I can't imagine what I would do if faced with such a situation. I pray that I would have the power to forgive. I pray, that as Corrie Ten Boom realized, I would see that the Lord has forgiven me, He has forgiven the one with whom I'm angry, and it is my responsibility to forgive as well.

And, I'm also reminded of some quotes by Amy Carmichael in her book, "If". Powerful and convicting words.

"If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

"If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word, "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

"If I do not give a friend "the benefit of the doubt," but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

"If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

"If I say, "Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget," as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

That's alot to chew on today. I'm sure this will be in "processing" mode for me for the next few days. I welcome any commentary, input or responses.

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