“Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
— Ephesians 4:31-32 (NRSV)
The sins of others,
Those I can see,
That of sisters and brothers,
With brokenness like me.
Sin explains something,
Something gorgeously Divine,
That sin’s just a thing,
To make God’s forgiveness mine.
When I see brokenness in others it reminds me of my own brokenness. We are all so wonderfully fallible. That is the inducement into the very heart of God, a day by day journey.
But there is an equivalent reality for the person given to a dark attitude, a disposition of annoyance, and a manner of speech ensuing – “shouting” and “abusive”. Recalling a recent case of road rage enacted on a highway, a 60s male driver in one hell of a rush, there was no convincing him to slow down and take it easy, as he barked and threw his arms about furiously. Something had riled him and his brokenness had taken him into a dark destination manifest to crimes against fellow road users. We could only get out of his way and pray.
There are vast dichotomies of attitude, disposition, and manner of behavior. Ours is to bear one another’s brokenness.
Forgiveness – Understood In Context of Brokenness
The road rage perpetrator couldn’t be reasoned with – but he is still a member of society. When we understand there is a dark source of brokenness within each of us – resonating the need we each have for a holy God to be Lord over our lives – we can wrestle safely with the dark forces engaged within another person. Their brokenness is obvious only because ours is, too.
He needed help. We all do. We should pray all the more that our warm and empathic genuineness might occasionally melt these secondary emotions of anger and rage.
When we reconcile what brokenness is – that the insufficiency and damage of a person’s biology, life experience, and personality explain them – we can grasp God’s sight on matters. Forgiveness is not so hard then. There is an explanation.
Embracing Humanity’s Wonderful Fallibility
What is still so strangely negative – that we are fallen, broken vessels for use – is an astounding encouragement when we recognize what God has done for us in Christ. Our sin propounds God’s grace all the more. It means we are not finished in our sin; that God has had the final, hope-filled word.
As we embrace our own sinful natures, we quicken in embracing the not-so-glorious imperfections of others. Their ugly attitudes and behaviors simply convince us of our ever personal need for a holy God as Lord over all of life.
Bearing one another’s brokenness is a resplendent privilege of each of us who knows the Lord our God. Not only are we commanded to love one another – even in thick of encroaching sin – but we are called to bear these things with a forgiving instinctiveness, as Christ: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
And because we are capable of such forgiving instinctiveness we are enabled to do it, upon surrender, and then see it in all its redemptive power. This is when the Holy Spirit’s power comes right into its own, as bonds of hate, fear, and transgression are broken down, block by ugly block.
We were saved from engaging in sin to the extent that we might truly marvel at God’s forgiving grace and exemplify it. We still get it wrong, but every broken moment can be redeemed if we wish. Bearing one another’s brokenness may well be the most important task leading to forgiveness.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.