Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ah, To Be Forgiven or Forgive! (cf. Psalm 32)

IT IS GOOD TO KNOW PEACE. Peace is what everyone with sane minds want. Having committed adultery, murdered and deceived in one of only two catalogued sins over his lifetime, King David was experiencing the vast opposite of peace before he came by God and sincerely sought the Almighty’s forgiveness.

Psalm 32 is not only a psalm lauding how good it is to be forgiven, it points us in the direction of true peace—the very footstool of joy, love, and a myriad form of virtue.

We will all need to be forgiven—by God—for all have sinned (Romans 3:23); that’s a no-brainer. But, we’ll also regularly need the forgiveness of our families, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Forgiveness is necessary to ward against the resentments that all too often set in and create for the nurturer, ‘emotional baggage.’

Forgiveness is about reconciliation—perfectly it’s about two parties agreeing to get things back on an even keel and re-commit to an effective and functional relationship, or the steps toward that end.

When we exist without this reconciliation i.e. the other person won’t reconcile or we can’t, the result is peace can’t truly be ours (or theirs); at least in relation to that issue, circumstance, place or time. This effect was known by David as his “bones wasted away through [his] groaning all day long” (Ps. 32:3). And this is how it’s commonly experienced by us—we’re torn up in our guilt or resentment, or both. This can quickly take such convoluted turns; bitter and twisted beyond much help we can often become if we don’t respond appropriately. This takes most people a lot of moral courage to extract from.

We need to both forgive and be forgiven. A withholding of either makes our hearts sick (Proverbs 13:12). When we won’t be forgiven by another, we must proactively forgive and resolve it within ourselves.

Verse 9 suggests that we human beings have a distinct advantage over the animal kingdom—an advantage we very often do not capitalise upon. We can exercise understanding and wisdom; a practical means is to forgive and accept forgiveness. Yet, we can only do this if we utilise our higher (adult) mind—getting well over the typical immature reptilian-mammalian response.

Why on earth would we not want to engage in reconciliation? This reticence only hurts ourselves. No one else is truly harmed; they can easily get beyond it if they wish.

Understanding suggests we’ve gotten over our pathetic stubbornness of spirit and we’re blessed in a corresponding peace. This peace is beyond no one. It’s freely available! Absolutely!

Probably one thing that many non-Christians can’t work out about Spirit-filled Christians that attracts them to faith is the fact of their ‘felt peace.’ To be forgiven—and on the eternal stage, what’s more!—is a mind-blowing reality that simply ruptures joy from within. But, to extend that forgiveness into real life is a sweet victory at the very centre of imploding any conflict.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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