Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Should I Forgive?

Do you write comments in the margins of your Bible? I do. This morning I ran across a comment in the margin that caused a flash of negative emotion. I suddenly and intensely remembered the destruction that the acrimonious dissolving of a relationship with a close Christian friend caused. I think the extreme hurt I experienced is a result not only of the former emotional closeness but also because of the sharing of our spiritual lives. This former friend’s name and a comment were scribbled in my Bible beside this verse.

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8  ESV

A flood of emotions engulfed me. I remembered the hurt and the time of difficulty. It is such an ingrained part of our human nature—to bring up the hurts and to nurse them. I wanted to focus on me and my feelings, my wants, my desires. That is why at times I have struggled with mild depression and anger. How can I expect to not be angry and depressed if I choose to spend time rehashing old hurts and rationalizing my behaviors? I am sure that by now, my side of the story only vaguely resembles what really happened. In my mind, my behavior has been justified and the other person’s behavior has been vilified. What have I gained? Nothing but the negative experiences caused by anger and depression. You would think that by making the events look better from my perspective would make me happier not sadder. That is not the case. The more I think about those sad events and sanitize my actions, the more I feel the strength of the negativism the breakup of a Christian friendship created. Scripture has instructions for dealing with other Christians.

 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up...” 1 Thessalonians 5:11a  ESV

“…Be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13b  ESV
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15  ESV

So if I want to follow God’s directions, I must choose to forgive and let go of the bad memories.  I must purposefully choose to focus on the good traits of Christians and the endearing memories. I must, at a heart level, seek only what is good for my former friend.  

Lord, give me the ability to choose to remember the good times. Create in me the mindset of building up and seeking the good for all of my fellow Christians. Give me a forgiving spirit when others do not meet my expectations.

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